Hawaii's Paiva leads LMU over Baylor in NCAA Baseball Regional
Paiva, the reigning WCC Pitcher of the Year, was stellar for LMU producing 7.2 innings of four hit, one run baseball.
(LMU Athletics) - The Loyola Marymount Lions entered their first NCAA Regional game since 2000 and got everything and more from starting pitcher Codie Paiva as he shut down the Bears offense in a 3-1 victory over No. 2 seed Baylor in the Los Angeles Regional.
Paiva, the reigning WCC Pitcher of the Year, was stellar for LMU producing 7.2 innings of four hit, one run baseball. Paiva finished his first NCAA Regional with five strikeouts compared to one walk against 27 Baylor batters.
"Codie set the tone on the mound, right? He does what he does," said head coach Jason Gill. "He goes out and gives up one run in seven and two thirds against one of the better offenses in the country. And then our offense was opportunistic and that's seemingly how we've been all year. It's kind of like a different hero every day."
LMU was opportunistic throughout the game and was able to shed any nerves right from the onset when Brandon Shearer singled in his first at-bat in the top of the first, setting the tone for the Lions.
"The middle of our lineup did well. I think when Brandon (Shearer) stepped up and got that first hit in the first inning, it kind of loosened everybody up a little bit," said Gill.
With the Lions nerves at bay they struck first against Baylor in the visiting half of the second.
Tommy Delgado, who ended the day going 3-for-4 with an RBI, singled to left and was moved over to second after Steven Chavez was hit by a pitch. The Lions Alex Lambeau reached first on a fielder's choice advancing Delgado to third while Chavez was thrown out at second.
Dylan Hirsch stepped up to bat and sent a Jimmy Winston pitch to right field for a sacrifice fly scoring Delgado and giving the Lions the early one-run lead.
The Bears knotted the score at one a piece after a Davion Downey hit to the right side was fielded by Lambeau who threw to Paiva covering at first allowing Andy Thomas to score for Baylor.
With both teams all square at one the game didn't feature much offense until the Lions broke through in the top of the sixth.
After drawing a walk with one out Brandon Shearer scored all the way from first when Trevin Esquerra's double tripped up Baylor's right fielder allowing Shearer to take advantage and bring in the Lions second run of the game. With one run already in and Esquerra on third due to the error Delgado singled up the middle and brought in the third run for LMU.
The two-run advantage would be all Paiva and the Lions would need.
"It's awesome having Codie on the mound," said Shearer. "We were going up against a good arm, as well. We know that if we punch one, two—we got three today, so we're pretty lucky. Especially with our offense, the way we've been going. A lot of people like to talk bad about it. You know what, we say 'OK.' We just embrace what people are saying about us or not saying about us with that matter. We just know Codie's on the mound and we have a chance no matter what."
Paiva pitched himself out of trouble in the sixth and got help from his defense via a beautiful play by Nick Sogard at short, starting the 6-4-3 double play ending the Bears threat and inning in what turned out to be a turning point for LMU.
"I would say it was one of the turning points of the game," said Paiva. "He squared up that ball really good. There's a reason Nick (Sogard) is the Defensive Player of the Year in our conference and he made a fabulous play. (Alex) Lambeau with a great turn at second. I feel like that was a big momentum booster for us, getting out of that inning unscathed."
The Lions got a double from Delgado in the top of the eighth but couldn't punch anymore runs across and after getting the first two outs in the bottom of the eighth Paiva was relieved by Nick Frasso.
Paiva's strong performance on the mound this afternoon was recognized by Baylor's coaching staff.
"But I'll tell you what, I'm going to tip my hat to Codie Paiva," said Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez. "He did a heck of a job out there just pounding the zone with a lot of different pitches and continually just putting pressure on our offense to get something going. I thought we swung the bat well in a lot of different capacities but we just couldn't get runs across the board."
Frasso produced the four out save for LMU first by getting Nick Loftin to strike out looking ending the eighth.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth Frasso was set to face the Bears 2-3-4 hitters and after a 12-pitch at bat to Richard Cunningham resulting in a fly out to Sogard, Frasso only needed five more pitches to get the final two outs propelling the Lions to the 3-1 victory.
LMU now moves into the winner's bracket of the Los Angeles Regional and will face the No. 1 seed UCLA on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. PT at Jackie Robinson Stadium.