LEBANON, Tenn. — The way he took care of his business on the mound, it was almost as if Baylor freshman Gavin Roberson was trying to finish before curfew.
Since he's only 15, maybe that explains the economy of pitches and workmanlike approach as the right-hander never allowed Memphis University School to threaten in an impressive 2-0 win in the opening round of the Division II-AA baseball state tournament at Wilson Central High School.
"I didn't hesitate to have him start tonight," Baylor coach Gene Etter said of throwing the baby-faced freshman into the role of pitching the important opening game. "I wasn't going to penalize him for being a freshman. He's special. He's been the best of anybody we've had throw lately and his last four games have been really impressive."
The 5-foot-6, 127-pound Roberson has allowed just one run in his last 28 innings pitched and Tuesday evening, he scattered four hits, walked two and struck out four in a game that took just 1:44 to complete.
Baylor will play McCallie today in the winners bracket. That will be the fourth time the teams have played this season, with the Red Raiders winning all three previous meetings.
Baylor got both its runs in the third, coming on five walks, with Hunter Holland and Alex Armstrong working bases-loaded walks to force in runs.
That was enough support for Roberson, who improved to 7-2 on the season with a 1.47 earned-run average and also has two saves and a win against McCallie in the regular season.
"To get this first one is a big weight off my chest," Roberson said. "Obviously as a freshman I didn't know what to expect in a state tournament like this. But I've thrown in some huge summer league games, including national elite tournaments in Cooperstown (N.Y.) and Orlando.
"I had a few butterflies to start, but after that first inning I really got in my groove. After that, I would just block out any bad thoughts and picture good things, just to stay positive."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...