Dayton, Tenn. – On Feb. 5, the 23rd ranked Bryan Lions Baseball team got their 2016 season underway by hosting No. 25 University of Rio Grande RedStorm (Ohio) and ended with a 4-0 series sweep, topping the team who sent the Lions home in the NAIA National Tournament last year.
In game one against the RedStorm, Chad Burrows (JR/Nassau, Bahamas) picked up his first win of the season giving up one run on six hits and striking out four. Bryan struck early with a one-run advantage in the second and added another score before allowing Rio their first run in the top of the sixth. The Lions responded with a two-run outing in the bottom half, extending their lead to 4-1. Three runs totaled in the eighth proved to be enough separation for the Lions as the RedStorm scored two runs against reliever Travis Moore (JR/Hastings, Mich.), but ultimately fell short, 7-3. Highlights in game one included doubles from the Lions Langston Calhoun (SR/Berkeley, Calif.) and Evan Speicher (SR/Chattanooga, Tenn.), two homeruns from Justin Morhardt (SO/Winsted, Conn.) and Andrew Urbistondo (SR/Stockton, Calif.), and two stolen by Preston King (SR/Kingston, Tenn.) and Cameron Yoho (JR/Collierville, Tenn.). Morhardt tallied three RBI with two hits in four at-bats. Cody Rhinehart (SR/Ooltewah, Tenn.) followed with two RBI with two hits in four at-bats. Urbistondo chipped in a run scored and an RBI after going 2-for-3 at the plate.
LJ Rowden (SR/Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) started at the mound for the Lions in game two and tossed four innings, striking out three but giving up five hits and three runs. Bryan felt a change in pressure after scoring eight in the bottom of the second. Rio added two runs in both the fourth and sixth innings, while Bryan added one run in each of those innings as well. Brandon Marklund (SO/North Vancouver, Canada) entered for two innings and was dealt two runs and two hits. Zeke Colby (SR/Chico, Calif.) closed for Bryan, blanking the RedStorm in his turn. Calhoun, Morhardt, and Crandon Wallace (SR/Nassau, Bahamas) all finished with two runs batted in, respectively, while King and Wallace led in runs scored with two apiece. Urbistondo went a perfect 3-for-3 and notched one run scored and one RBI. The 10-5 victory put the Lions up 2-0 in the first two games of the series.
As game three began to unfold the following day, the Lions were able to get some hits and reach base but were unable to capitalize until the bottom of the fifth when Bryan put up four for the first runs of the game by either team. The four runs were all the Lions needed to top the RedStorm, as Francisco Colin (SR/Las Vegas, Nev.) was spotless until the top of the eighth when Rio rallied for three runs. Jose Hernandez (SR/Perth Amboy, N.J.) finished out the game, keeping Rio from any hopes of a comeback. Colin only gave up four hits while whiffing six. King compiled a notable performance, hitting the lone homer of the game and finished 2-for-4 with three runs batted in. Dannon Grubb (FR/Rockwood, Tenn.), Jesus Astudillo (SO/Caracas, Venezuela), and Speicher all recorded two hits. Speicher, Yoho, and Grubb all scored a run each. Bryan held onto the 1-score difference for a 4-3 win in game three.
The final game of the four-game series was the quietest one as Bryan managed six hits in 19 at-bats, while the Lions Chris Sauve (JR/Mascouche, Quebec) threw six innings of three-hit ball and gave up no runs. He picked up six strikeouts in the process. Grubb and Astudillo scored the only two runs for Bryan, one coming in the second and one in the third, while Speicher hit the only RBI of the game. Tristan Legault (FR/Mascouche, Quebec) relieved in the seventh and allowed the RedStorm their only run of the game as Bryan finished the game 2-1 and the series 4-0 over top-25 ranked University of Rio Grande.
Miami Trip Recap
The Bryan Lions Baseball team upped their competition with a trip to Miami, Fla. to take on the No. 2 team in the nation on Friday (Feb. 12), St. Thomas University, and the No. 15 team on Saturday (Feb. 13), Keiser University. The highlight of the outing came in game two of the St. Thomas series when Bryan came away with a split after outlasting the 2nd ranked Bobcats 5-4.
Burrows took to the mound to begin game one of the series against the Bobcats. The second batter up for St. Thomas singled and then advanced to second after the following batter walked. A pitch hit the next Bobcat, putting a player in scoring position with only one out. The first score of the game resulted in a sacrifice fly as St. Thomas took a 1-0 lead after the first inning.
The Lions got to work in the top of the second as both King and Morhardt cranked back-to-back doubles, evening the score 1-1. Wallace hit a sacrifice bunt to advance Morhardt to third. Rhinehart took his turn at a double, scoring Morhardt and establishing a 2-1.
In the third the Bobcats regained the lead after another walk and hit batter put players on second and first with two outs. The Bobcats singled and scored one run and sent a runner to third. Another single aided St. Thomas to a 3-2 lead.
The Lions countered in the fourth with two scores. Wallace helped Bryan get in scoring position by reaching first on a walk and stealing both second and third base. Urbistondo eventually grounded out, scoring Wallace, and leveled it 3-3. Speicher singled and then used his speed to steal second base. Grubb followed it up with a single, allowing Speicher to reach home and regain a Bryan lead, 4-3.
The bottom of the fourth served as the dagger for Bryan as St. Thomas pieced together five runs on four hits to jump ahead 8-4. Despite a run in the top of the fifth for the Lions and Hunter Tipton (SR/Taylorsville, Ky.) ceasing anymore scoring from the Bobcats after entering the game in the fifth, Bryan was unable to post any more scores as St. Thomas controlled an 8-5 decision.
Calhoun went an impressive 4-for-5 in game one, while King, Morhardt, and Rhinehart were the only other Lions who finished with multi-hits. Burrows surrendered seven hits and eight runs while walking two and striking out two. Tipton allowed only two hits and zero runs over a four-inning stretch and matched Burrows with two walks and two strikeouts.
It wasn't until the bottom of the third in game two that St. Thomas put the first run on the scoreboard after a single and double, gaining a 1-0 advantage. It was all Morhardt in the top of the fourth as he hammered his second homerun of the season on a 1-2 count to tie the ballgame at 1-1. Rowden controlled the mound for Bryan as he kept the Bobcats scoreless in the fourth.
Wallace bunted to begin the fifth and reached base. Hudson Clare (JR/Jacksonville, Fla.) hit a sac-bunt, advancing Wallace to second. Rhinehart grounded out, but Wallace made a move to third and took scoring position with two outs. Urbistondo stood tall at the plate, giving way to a walk. Speicher came up with a crucial single, scoring Wallace and allowing Urbistondo to take second. Grubb singled and gave the Lions a two-point lead after batting in Urbistondo, 3-1.
Morhardt delivered once again in the seventh with a single, scoring both Urbistondo and Speicher to take a 5-1 lead. Despite a three-run effort by the Bobcats in the bottom of the seventh, the Bryan Lions edged out a 5-4 victory over the No. 2 team.
Morhardt recorded a game-high three hits and three RBI. Speicher ended 2-for-3 with one run scored and one RBI, and Grubb tallied the other RBI after hitting 1-for-3 for the game. Rowden pitched up till the last out, striking out seven in the process and gave up four runs on six hits. Hernandez stepped in and struck out the last batter of the game, sealing the Lions win.
On Saturday the Lions tasted their first sweeping of the season after No. 15 Keiser University rolled past Bryan 9-3 in game one and 11-1 in the final game of the Florida trip.
The Seahawks made a statement in the first, taking a 1-0 lead after scoring a player from second on an RBI single. A passed ball in the third allowed the Lions to tie the game at 1-1. However, Keiser countered in the bottom half with back-to-back RBI doubles to right center, regaining a 3-1 advantage.
Bryan managed to get a run back in the fourth to cut away at the deficit, but a double from the Seahawks in the fourth gave way to a 4-2 lead. An RBI single in the fifth extended the margin to 5-2. Calhoun hoped to provide motivation with a homerun to deep right, making it 5-3, but Keiser answered with four runs in the bottom half. RBI singles scored three runs and a bases loaded walk capped the scoring, giving the Seahawks a 9-3 victory.
Calhoun, Morhardt, and Rhinehart had two hits apiece while Calhoun and Morhardt had the only RBI's of the game. Colin started the game for the Lions and threw three innings. He gave up four hits, three runs, and walked two along with one strikeout. Both Colby and Moore pitched one inning and surrendered two hits and one run, respectively. Landon Mosteller (FR/Clarksville, Tenn.) took a turn but gave up one hit and three runs late in the game. Marklund was unable to keep the Seahawks from scoring after giving up one hit and one run during his one inning.
The Bryan Lions were unable to turn things around for game two as RBI singles in the first and second gave Keiser an early 2-0 lead. The only score for Bryan came in the third on a single by Wallace to right field, scoring Morhardt making it 2-1.
The Seahawks led off the third with a single and scored two with a homer to right field upping their lead to 4-1. Another single in the fifth added another score for Keiser as they controlled a 5-1 advantage. In the sixth, with two outs, the Seahawks loaded the bases and back-to-back walks stretched their lead to 7-1. The bases were then cleared with a double to center field as the Bryan fell behind 10-1. The last run for Keiser came from a single down the right field line, giving way to an 11-1 win over the Lions.
Lake Burris (FR/Chatsworth, Ga.) was the only Lion to register at least two hits. Wallace ended 1-for-2 with an RBI. Calhoun, King, and Rhinehart were the only other players from Bryan to record a hit. Most of the damage by Keiser was done when Sauve tossed five innings and surrendered 10 hits, eight runs, and managed seven strikeouts. Hernandez relieved late in the game, but was left giving up two hits and three runs. Jared Breazeale (JR/Rockwood, Tenn.) aided at the end of the game, collecting one strikeout along the way and halted any further runs by the Seahawks.
The sweep of Rio and 1-3 record while in Florida gave the Bryan Lions Baseball team a 5-3 record after returning home.
For the full Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, visit bryanlions.com/baseball.