Dayton, Tenn. – The Bryan Lions Baseball team had a rough outing over the weekend in Appalachian Athletic Conference opening action against Truett-McConnell College (Ga.) finishing 1-2 in the series, but Martin Methodist (Tenn.) suffered as the Lions responded Tuesday night and overwhelmed the Redhawks in walk-off fashion to hand the Southern States Athletic Conference foe a 5-4 loss and drop their overall record to 8-8. Bryan improved to 14-6 overall and maintains a 1-2 conference record.
Senior Hunter Tipton (SR/Taylorsville, Ky.) started at the mound for the Lions and tossed five innings, giving up six hits and surrendering one run after walking three and striking out two. Landon Mosteller (FR/Clarksville, Tenn.) relieved Tipton in the sixth inning and pitched through the seventh frame, allowing two hits and one run while recording one strikeout. Brandon Marklund (SO/North Vancouver, Canada) closed the two final innings and surrendered three hits and two runs.
Lion's hit-leaders included Crandon Wallace (SR/Nassau, Bahamas), Evan Speicher (SR/Chattanooga, Tenn.), and Justin Morhardt (SO/Winsted, Conn.) who all finished with two hits. Morhardt led the RBI column for Bryan with two and scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, being patient at the plate and took three balls to start the at-bat. A fastball followed right down the middle to make it a 3-1 count. Morhardt was not fooled as the final ball was thrown his way with the bases loaded to plate Speicher, sealing a 5-4 Bryan victory.
The Redhawks struck first with a run in the top of the third resulting from a walk to start the inning and an RBI double to give Martin Methodist an early 1-0 edge.
The Lions eventually put a run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth. Speicher was walked to start the bottom of the frame, and then Calhoun ripped a single to put runners on first and second. On a 2-2 count, Preston King (SR/Kingston, Tenn.) laid down a sacrifice bunt to put Speicher in scoring position at third and advanced Calhoun to second. Morhardt delivered a groundout to second base, and Speicher leveled the score 1-1 after reaching home.
Bryan took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth. Hudson Clare (JR/Jacksonville, Fla.) started things off for the Lions with a walk. Cameron Yoho (JR/Collierville, Tenn.) entered as a courtesy runner for Clare. Andrew Urbistondo (SR/Stockton, Calif.) advanced Yoho to second with a sac-bunt. Wallace came through with an RBI single to plate Yoho for a 2-1 advantage.
An RBI double for the Redhawks in the top of the seventh evened the score back out again, 2-2. In the bottom of the seventh the Lions were unable to capitalize with runners on second and third with two outs, giving way to Martin Methodist jumping ahead 3-2 in the top of the eighth with an RBI single.
Speicher and Calhoun gave the Lions needed momentum to rally in the bottom of the eighth after Speicher reached first on a single and Calhoun walked on a 3-2 count to provide Bryan runners on first and second with no outs. Once again, King delivered a crucial sac-bunt to put Speicher in scoring position at third and advance Calhoun to second. Four straight balls walked Morhardt to load the bases for Bryan. Lake Burris (FR/Chatsworth, Ga.) reached base on a fielder's choice and Morhardt was forced out at second, but Speicher reached home and tied it up 3-3.
As the ninth inning started to unfold, the Redhawks took advantage of a walk, sac-bunt, and wild pitch to establish a runner at third. A groundout was all Martin Methodist needed to put the pressure on Bryan as one run scored to take a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Urbistondo led-off for the Lions but Bryan quickly picked up one out after a groundout. Jesus Astudillo (SO/Caracas, Venezuela) followed with a battle at the plate as he fouled the first pitch, took two balls, and then fouled three straight before whiffing to give the Lions two outs with no one on. Wallace continued to have a large impact and notched a single on a full count, while Speicher took control with a double to give Bryan a glimpse of hope with runners on second and third with two outs. After not wanting to face Calhoun, the Redhawks decided to intentionally walk Calhoun, which loaded the bases for King. Three consecutive balls and a strike later, King stood tall at the plate and was hit by a pitch to score the tying run, 4-4. As the red-hot Morhardt stepped up to bat, discipline was key as he watched three balls to begin his time at the plate. He waited as the next pitch was a strike, but he was unfazed as he studied the final pitch that crossed outside the strike zone to finish with a walk-off walk, scoring Speicher for a 5-4 win.
After an all-out battle on Senter Field and having to make the most of last minute opportunities, Head Bryan Lions Baseball Coach, Taylor Hasty remarked, "Our guys really fought hard. We had to come from behind three different times, and our guys continued to battle. I'm proud of their effort, and I look forward to our progressing growth as the season moves forward."
The Lions go without a break as they hit the road today in a showdown in Columbia, Ky. against the Blue Raiders of Lindsey Wilson with a 4pm start time. Watch live here and follow along with live stats here.
For the full Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.