KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Top-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan and third-seed Bryan (Tenn.) inched a step closer to the Championship Game of the 2015 Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament on Tuesday, as both teams collected big victories to cap off another exciting day at Hunter Wright Stadium.
In the third game of the day, Bryan (Tenn.) blew open a close game in the middle innings, as they pulled away from No. 2 seed Union (Ky.) in a 14-8 slugfest.
With the lead see-sawing back and forth over the four innings, Bryan grabbed a 7-6 lead in the top of the fifth, then put Union away with a big six-run top of the seventh to take an insurmountable 13-6 lead into the final two innings.
Leading the way for Bryan in the win was lead-off batter Chris Jefferies, who went 4-for-5 with four runs scored and two RBI. Meanwhile, Preston King had four RBI, Kevin Roberts posted three RBI, and Cody Rhinehart had three hits, two RBI, and two runs scored. In all, Bryan smashed 17 hits in the game off Union pitching
In the fourth and final game of the night, Tennessee Wesleyan took and early 5-0 lead in the top of the second and never looked back in a 9-4 victory over fifth-seeded Milligan (Tenn.).
Leading the way for Wesleyan in the win was designated hitter Cody Stroud, who was 3-for-5 with three RBI and three runs scored. Two of those RBI came off a towering two-run home run for Stroud in the top of the second, which opened the scoring on the night for TWC. On the mound, pitcher Tayler Saucedo earned the win, striking out six in a little over six innings of work.
In the first game of the day, No. 6 seeded Reinhardt (Ga.) made quick work of No. 7 seeded St. Andrews (N.C.), opening up a 4-0 lead in the first two innings and never looking back in an 8-2 win that knocked SAU out of the Tournament.
Overall, Reinhardt was led Chap Lindstrom, who was 2-for-5 with three RBI and Justin Schlie, who was also 2-for-5 with three RBI and a run scored. On the mound, starting pitcher Zach Cagle didn't allow a run for five innings, and nabbed the win after allowing just two runs on seven hits in six and thirds innings of work.
In the second elimination game, fourth-seeded Point (Ga.) opened a big early lead, and held off a late rally by eighth-seeded Truett-McConnell (Ga.) to notch a 7-6 win to knock the Bears out of the tournament.
In the first, it appeared Point would run away with the ballgame, as they leaped out a 4-0 lead in the top of the first after smashing four hits in the opening frame. Well into the game, Point coasted, as they held a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.
There, Truett-McConnell began their comeback, scoring three runs to slash the Point lead down to 5-3. In the top of the eighth and ninth innings, Point tacked on single runs in each frame, which proved to be vastly important as the bottom of the ninth began.
Down 7-3, Truett rallied in the ninth, scoring two runs on back-to-back RBI singles with two outs. With Peyton Fore up and runners on second and third down 7-5, Fore delivered, roping an RBI single into right field.
But, unfortunately for TMC, Point's right fielder Jeffery Ginn threw out what would've been the game-tying run from the outfield, clinching the win for the Skyhawks.
Overall, catcher Michael Hughes had a big game for Point, going 3-for-4 with two RBI, while Trey Chambers 3-for-5 with three runs scored and hit what turned out to be a game-winning solo home run in the top of the ninth.
Play continues tomorrow at the AAC Tournament, first with a pair of elimination games. First, Union will play Reinhardt at 10 a.m., followed by Point and Milligan at 1 p.m. The winners of those games will then take on Bryan and TWC at 4 and 7 p.m., respectively.