College : : Story
Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bailey Producing Big Numbers at Nebraska

Jim Ecker        
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Adam Bailey began his college baseball career at Arizona State as a pitcher, but he's finishing his college days at Nebraska as one of the top sluggers in the country.

Bailey, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound right fielder, is hitting .388 with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs as a senior after going 2-for-4 against the Iowa Hawkeyes Tuesday night. He leads the Big 12 Conference in home runs, hits, RBIs and total bases, ranks second in slugging percentage and has the fifth-best batting average among all Big 12 players who have at least 100 at-bats.

"My season is going all right. It's a different story with my team," he said softly after the Cornhuskers lost to Iowa, 5-2.

The defeat dropped Nebraska to 19-22 for the season, and Coach Mike Anderson held a closed-door meeting in the visitors clubhouse for more than an hour at Duane Banks Field after the Cornhuskers committed four errors. By the time the players returned to the field, the grounds crew had turned out the lights and the Cornhuskers had to pack their gear in the dark.

It was approximately 10:30 p.m. by the time Nebraska left the stadium, facing a four-hour bus ride home.

Bailey, unhappy with the defeat and his team's losing record, was in no mood to brag about his individual accomplishments this season, but the left-handed slugger has done some remarkable things. He went 7-for-11 with six RBIs during a three-game series against the Texas Longhorns in March, a performance that included a home run against Texas ace Taylor Jungmann. He also socked a home run last month against UCLA pitcher Gerritt Cole, who was a first-round pick by the New York Yankees in 2008.

Jungmann and Cole have surrendered a total of six home runs this season -- four by Jungmann, two by Cole -- and Bailey has two of them.

"I love top pitchers. I mean, I love good pitching," he said. "It's a challenge, and I love competing. My teammates expect me to do big things, and I expect myself to do big things. And if I don't succeed, just get me back to the plate as soon as possible."

Bailey, from Scottsdale, Ariz., spent one season at Arizona State in 2007, strictly as a pitcher. He appeared in 10 games for the Sun Devils, collecting 13 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings as a freshman. Arizona State reached the College World Series that year, but Bailey also wanted to swing the bat. Pat Murphy, ASU's coach at the time, had a different idea.

Murphy told Bailey he could redshirt as a true freshman at Arizona State in 2007 and work on his hitting, or he could begin his college career at a junior college, work on his hitting and then transfer to ASU. Bailey didn't like either suggestion.

He spent one year at Arizona State, was not happy and left. "So I decided to go to a JUCO, where they gave me an opportunity to hit," he said.

Bailey transferred to South Mountain Community College in Arizona and proved he could swing the bat, hitting .400 with four homers and 40 RBIs. He enrolled at Nebraska last season and had a solid year, hitting .325 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs, and he's already topped those power numbers this season. He was a relief pitcher at South Mountain C.C. in 2008 and at Nebraska in 2009, but he's strictly a hitter now.

Bailey, 22, has belted 27 homers with 102 RBIs in 91 games for the Cornhuskers, and he's hitting .365 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 13 games against ranked opponents this year. He's got the best power numbers at Nebraska since 2005.

Bailey was selected in the 38th round by the New York Yankees in 2009 and admits he was tempted to sign.

"Yeah, a little bit," he said. "But I trusted my coach (Anderson), and he told me we had some good pitchers coming back and we had some different players, so I took that into consideration and I said, 'All right,. I'm coming back.'"

Nebraska hoped for better results this season after finishing 25-28-1 in 2009, including an 8-19 mark in the Big 12. But the results haven't been much different so far this year, with the Cornhuskers sitting at 19-22 and 6-12.

Bailey has been one of the bright spots. "My season has been OK, so far," he said modestly.

He's eligible for the draft again this June.

"No, I haven't heard much," he said. "I've had a couple of meetings with scouts, but nothing major."

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