LOS ANGELES – Baylor junior catcher Shea Langeliers didn’t leap tall buildings with a single bound and wasn’t faster than a speeding bullet in Saturday’s NCAA tournament game against Omaha.
Anything else you heard about what Langeliers did is probably true. The All-American set an NCAA postseason record by driving in 11 runs to lead Baylor to a 24-6 victory over Omaha in an elimination contest at the Los Angeles Regional.
Langeliers hit three home runs, going 5-for-6 with a walk. Before he was called out on strikes in his last plate appearance – a correct call, he said – he hit a ball with home-run distance which was about 10 feet foul.
Langeliers’ amazing 11 RBI total surpassed the previous NCAA postseason record of 10, which had been held by Miami’s Kevin Brown (2001) and Vanderbilt’s Connor Kaiser (2018).
Baylor (35-18) will play the loser of Saturday night’s UCLA vs. Loyola Marymount game on Sunday. The game will begin at 2:00 p.m. Central. If Baylor wins that game, it will play in the championship round at 8 p.m. against the team which wins their first two games. Baylor needs to win three consecutive games to advance to next weekend’s Super Regional round.
Omaha, which won the Summit League Tournament, finished its season with a 31-24-1 record. It was the first time the two teams had ever met.
“One through nine in our lineup, anybody can hit,” said Langeliers, who noted that he wore his pants higher that usual Saturday. “I came up in the right situations.”
Second-place hitter Richard Cunningham and No. 3 hitter Langeliers provided production for the Bears, whose top four hitters in the lineup managed only two hits in 16 at bats in Friday’s 3-1 loss to Loyola Marymount. But that changed on Saturday, as the top four starters in the batting order were 14-for 21.
Cunningham had a first-inning double and Langeliers followed with a home run to right to lift Baylor to a 2-0 advantage.
Omaha answered with a run in the bottom of the first when second baseman Breyden Eckhout hit a leadoff home run. Baylor got that run back in the top of the second when Nick Loftin doubled home a run. The Bears missed an opportunity to score more when Cunningham missed a home run when Omaha centerfielder Thomas DeBonville made a leaping catch at the wall.
Langeliers hit a solo homer to start a three-run rally in the third inning. He singled home two runs in the fourth, drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double in the sixth, and finished with a three-run home run in the seventh inning, when Baylor scored seven runs.
The offensive explosion was especially welcome since Baylor had scored only three runs in its preceding three games. It was a marked contrast from Baylor’s strong offense during the regular season, when the Bears scored 10 or more runs in 16 games. Josh Bissonette had four hits, while Baylor teammates Cunningham, Andy Thomas and Nick Loftin each collected three hits.
“Hitting is contagious,” Bissonette said. “We had a meeting yesterday and we forgot about the past games. We decided to be aggressive.”
Baylor coach Steve Rodriguez liked his team’s approach.
“A bad day is just that – a bad day,” Rodriguez said. “There are good at-bats and tough outings. We were the ninth-best team (nationally) in batting average.”
Baylor starter Paul Dickens picked up the win to improve to 6-2 on the year.
Rodriguez said he doesn’t know who will be the starting pitcher on Sunday.
“It will probably depend on the matchup against whomever wins,” Rodriguez said. “My focus is on winning the first game tomorrow and we’ll worry about the pitching for the fourth game.”