Derek Bailey should sleep in more often.
A late start is the only explanation the Lawrence Raiders outfielder could offer after he slugged three home runs in the Raiders' 13-3 victory against Olathe East in the American Legion regular-season finale Friday night at Free State High.
Bailey's teammates, who improved to 27-17, aren't buying the "sleep" answer.
"I think he shot up before the game," joked pitcher Aaron Madill, who improved to 9-1 on the season after another solid outing.
"Yeah, lately we've overheard him talking to Barry (Bonds) and Sammy (Sosa) about what they're taking. Apparently he's been trading secrets with them," said catcher Troy Wingert with a chuckle.
"Right," said a still astonished Bailey after the game. "It's really just unbelievable. I doubled my career home run total in one night.
"I could barely run around the bases after I saw the last one go out."
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Bailey who said he'd woken up early the past couple days and had sub-par games at the plate so he decided to sleep in Friday always has been a good hitter.
In addition to his quick bat, the recent Lawrence High graduate is fast on his feet usually.
In the first inning Bailey, who was 4-for-4 with seven RBIs and 13 total bases, stung a single up the middle. He scored when Wingert hit a double to right and the Raiders jumped to a 3-0 lead after the first.
Bailey buffed up in his second at bat.
He hit a two-run laser down the left-field line in the bottom of the second, starting his personal home run derby.
In the bottom of the third, Bailey jacked his second shot of the night, also his longest, which traveled 375-plus feet to left-center field.
That one was a three-run homer, which easily put the Raiders on top, 8-2.
"He's been hitting the heck out of the ball all season, he was due," said second baseman Andrew Pyle. "Hopefully he saved a few for zone."
Don't count on it, Bailey insisted he's not a power hitter and said before Friday he'd only hit three home runs in his career one last year in Legion play and two during high school ball.
But that didn't stop him from taking a third and final home run trot.
His last shot, another two-run bolt down the left-field line in the fourth, wasn't his best, but it ended Olathe East's evening when the game concluded via the run rule.
"I've coach some pro players and players that have been major stars on the college level, but I've never had a player hit three in a game," said Raiders coach Carl Brooks. "It's just amazing."
While there was plenty of family and friends to cheer Bailey around the bases in case he became faint from his heroics, of course he might have saved his dream performance for the perfect evening.
Bailey was thinking about walking on to the Kansas University baseball team. It just so happened that new KU coach Ritch Price was in the stands Friday night.
"Yeah, I had no idea," Bailey said of the Jayhawk scout being in the crowd. "I'm going to go and talk to him after the game."
After the official game ended, the two teams played a few more innings so they could practice for this week's upcoming American Legion zone tournament, but Bailey didn't get another at bat.
It didn't bother him though, because Bailey said he probably wouldn't ever hit another one.
"I probably hit my lifetime's worth tonight," said a smiling Bailey. "I'm so happy. I can't believe it."
Lawrence 13, Olathe East 3
Hawks 002 1 3 7 0
Raiders 326 2 13 12 0
WPAaron Madill (9-1). LPMichael Myer.
Raiders Highlights: Derek Bailey 4-for-4, 7 RBIs, 13 total bases; Troy Wingert 2-for-2, 2 doubles; Cassidy Thompson 2-for-2, 2 RBIs; Madill 5 strikeouts.