Although the Baylor School baseball team conceded two runs early to "mental mistakes" in the field, a jaw-dropping defensive play put the finishing touches on a series sweep of Brentwood Academy.
Junior center fielder Taylor Shahan had an outstanding jump at the ping of the bat, and in full sprint deep in the left-center gap he made a run-saving diving catch. Shahan jumped to his feet and fired a strike to his cut-off man to turn a game-ending double play in Friday's 6-4 win at an above-water Wyatt McMahan field.
"Luke (Courdin) came in dealing out of the bullpen, and I knew I had to make a play," said Shahan, who had one of his team's nine hits. "It was fun to end the game on a difficult catch, but even if I didn't catch it, I had faith my team would finish this game out."
The defending Division II-AA state champion Red Raiders (18-4) bounced back from their first series loss of the year — to Father Ryan last week. After winning the series opener against Brentwood Academy 15-1, they pulled out hard-fought battles in the final two games, which included a 2-1 extra-inning walk-off victory Thursday night.
The smooth left-handed stroke of sophomore shortstop Danny Corona helped provide the difference against the pesky Eagles. The Wake Forest commitment had three hits Friday afternoon.
Corona tied the score at 3 with a solo home run deep over the center-field fence in the bottom of the fourth, and in the fifth he followed Christian Martin's RBI single through the left side of the infield with a line drive just clearing the shortstop's outstretched glove to give the Red Raiders the lead for good at 5-4.
"Danny can really hit and is an exciting player to watch," Baylor coach Greg Elie said. "When our guys go up to the plate looking to hit line drives, we are one of the toughest teams to stop. I am proud of all our players' contributions. Any series sweep is big."
Sophomore Chris Moore padded the lead with a home run to left center in the sixth. The Red Raiders have smacked 18 homers this season.
Versatile junior and Virginia Tech commitment Gehrig Ebel had two sharply hit singles and scored twice, and Martin also collected a pair of hard hits.
Sophomore pitchers Chris Campanella and Courdin allowed one earned run apiece and combined to strike out eight. Courdin picked up the victory with his 3 2/3 innings of work.
"This was a complete team win," Elie said. "Our guys are maturing more and more every day, and I am proud of them. Taylor showed again he is a special outfielder. Any time a ball is in the air headed his way everyone is extremely confident."
Baylor will return to action at 6 p.m. Monday as it hosts Chattanooga Christian, which is led by Kentucky-bound John Rhodes.