LEBANON, Tenn. — Tattooing the baseball, Baylor picked up right where it left off in last year's Spring Fling.
The Red Raiders' Division II-AA state title defense began with a trio of sophomores leading a 10-0 five-inning victory over Ensworth at Wilson Central High School on Tuesday.
Danny Corona flashed his sweet stroke and quick hands, lining RBI doubles to both outfield gaps in the second and fourth innings to help back a lights-out Jay Dill on the hill.
While Baylor (25-6) has outscored its opposition 41-13 in its last four Fling games, a youthful but poised group accepts no guarantees.
"We didn't come into the state tournament thinking it would be easy, because nothing is guaranteed in baseball," said Corona, who went 3-for-3 and scored twice. "We have been working hard together, and our chemistry is tough to beat. We have bonded well as a team all season."
Nick Kurtz's yell after his bases-clearing triple to highlight a five-run fourth inning was one to be heard around Division II-AA.
The Red Raiders smacked eight hits with the last half dozen all going for extra bases.
The left-handed-hitting Kurtz also doubled to left-center in the first and scored on a wild pitch to give Baylor a 4-0 lead. Colin Ahearn followed Kurtz's towering drive in the fourth with an RBI double.
Gehrig Ebel and Corona jump-started the bats with two-strike singles in the first. Christian Martin's opposite-field sacrifice fly drove in a third run after a two-run fielding error.
"This performance by our guys sets the tone for what we do and how we play the game," Baylor coach Greg Elie said. "No single player has to be the hero. Danny and Nick really drove the ball with some steam, and Jay was a bulldog."
Dill's fastball, changeup and slider all were working against Ensworth (19-10).
With his glove under his chin before coming set, the tall righty rocking sports glasses fired away. Three of the four hits he allowed were doubles, but he did not waver as he struck out eight batters.
"This is like deja vu," said Dill, who worked well with catcher Jonathan Larrea. "Some of us are young, but we believe we are the best in the state and maybe the Southeast."