Dayton, Tenn. – A break from wintry weather, Saturday provided a perfect day for baseball as two NAIA top-ranked opponents took to Senter Field. It was the fourth top-25 foe the 23rd ranked Lions have faced this season.
The Lions proved their worth, outlasting the 17th ranked Racers of UNOH 3-2 in game one. It is the second time this season that Bryan has upset a higher ranked opponent, with their first upset happening in their trip to Miami, Fla. when the No. 2 team in the nation, St. Thomas University, were outmatched 5-4 in a Bryan victory.
LJ Rowden (SR/Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) helped quite the Racers to eight hits and one run through five innings pitched to pick up his fourth win of the season. Of the 21 batters he faced, he walked only two and struck out five. Jose Hernandez (SR/Perth Amboy, N.J.) finished the game with one hit and one run surrendered through one inning at the mound, while Chad Burrows (JR/Nassau, Bahamas) recorded one strikeout and no runs or hits through one inning.
The Lions plated the first run of the day in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single from Jesus Astudillo (SO/Caracas, Venezuela), scoring Crandon Wallace (SR/Nassau, Bahamas). Bryan was unable to add more to their advantage after Astudillo was thrown out at second trying to turn his hit into a double.
After Bryan notched a 1-0 lead, Northwestern Ohio responded in the top of the third with an RBI double to level the score at 1-1.
The Lions game-changer came in the bottom of the third when Langston Calhoun (SR/Berkeley, Calif.) reach first on a walk and then advanced to second on an Evan Speicher (SR/Chattanooga, Tenn.)'s single up the middle. Calhoun took scoring position after stealing third and continued home after Preston King (SR/Kingston, Tenn.) singled past the Racers' shortstop. Cody Rhinehart (SR/Ooltewah, Tenn.) made a statement in his at-bat, doubling the down the left field line and plating Speicher for a 3-1 lead in favor of Bryan.
Over the next two innings, neither team could capitalize on opportunities until Kelvin Flores launched a solo homer to right center to give UNOH the final score of the game as Bryan took the first game with a 3-2 victory.
Brookes Jones (JR/Franklin,Tenn.) was the only Lion to record a multi-hit game, while King, Rhinehart and Astudillo all collected one RBI, respectively. Calhoun picked up one stolen bag, and Jones and Rhinehart each hit a double in the contest.
Bryan got off to a quick start again in game two, this time on a solo homerun from King who sent the ball to deep right on a 3-1 count. It was King's second homer of the season and unfortunately the only run scored by the Lions in the last game of the doubleheader, giving Bryan an early 1-0 lead.
UNOH looked to fall behind even more after the Lions loaded the bases with nobody out in the second frame. Lake Burris (FR/Chatsworth, Ga.) led off with a single and was followed by Wallace who walked and Jones who walked. Batting fourth was Astudillo who struck out looking. Andrew Urbistondo (SR/Stockton, Calif.) couldn't capitalize after lining out to right. The explosive-hitting Calhoun was only other chance Bryan had to take advantage of the bases loaded, but a ground out to second ended the inning.
In the bottom of the third the Lions left two on base without a run scored and again left two runners on base in the bottom of the fourth without a run to show, before the Racers cruised their way to a one-run performance in both the top of the fifth and sixth to take a 2-1 decision.
Francisco Colin (SR/Las Vegas, Nev.) lasted five innings for the Lions, while giving up three hits and one run. He managed to walk three and strikeout two during his time before Chris Sauve (JR/Mascouche, Quebec) surrendered the game-winning run to the Racers in the top of the sixth, picking up his second loss of the season. Tristan Legault (FR/Mascouche, Quebec) entered for the final inning and ended with one hit, one walk, and one strikeout.
Rhinehart led the Lions in hits with two while King, Speicher, Burris, and Urbistondo were the only other Lions to come away with a hit. King had the highlight of the night with his second homerun of the season coming in the bottom of the first to give Bryan their only run of the contest.
After splitting with another higher-ranked opponent this season, Head Bryan Lions Baseball Coach, Taylor Hasty mentioned, "UNOH is a good ball club, and it was hard fought in both games. I believe we still have some growing to do, and I am proud of our players' commitment to getting better."
Picking up one game and dropping one against the Racers brings the Lions overall record to 10-4. Bryan Baseball return to action Friday and Saturday, March 4-5, at home in their Appalachian Athletic Conference opener against Truett-McConnell College (Ga.). Friday's game is scheduled to begin at 6pm.
For the full Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.