Dayton, Tenn. – The 23rd ranked Bryan Lions Baseball team met a tough match on the road last Wednesday when they went head-to-head against the No. 7 team in the country, Lindsey Wilson, but the Lions were able to piece together four runs in the latter innings before the Blue Raiders held on for a 9-4 win.
The Lions kept composure and managed their first sweep of a fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference opponent over the weekend against the Rams of Bluefield College to improve to 17-7 overall and 4-2 in conference play. Bryan was victorious in the first two games with a 10-run advantage in each and slowed down in the final game of the series on Saturday but kept the Rams from plating a run with a 3-0 win.
On Friday evening, the Lions started setting the pace early with two runs in the bottom of the first frame. Evan Speicher (SR/Chattanooga, Tenn.) led off with a double and then used his speed to score the first run of the game as Justin Morhardt (SO/Winsted, Conn.) connected for an RBI single. Cameron Yoho (JR/Collierville, Tenn.) entered as a courtesy runner and made the most of a Hudson Clare (JR/Jacksonville, Fla.) single for the Lions second score of the game, jumping ahead 2-0 after one inning. Bryan added more separation with three additional runs in the bottom of the second. With two outs, Crandon Wallace (SR/Nassau, Bahamas) ripped a double and Speicher delivered again with a double, plating Wallace for a 3-0 lead. Preston King (SR/Kingston, Tenn.) notched an RBI single and then stole second for a chance at another score. Two errors by the Rams gave way to King reaching home for a 5-0 lead after two. Clare continued with a hot bat and blasted a double to start off the bottom of the third. Clare took scoring position at third after Brooke Jones hit a single. Jones then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jesus Astudillo (SO/Caracas, Venezuela) was patient at the plate and took it to a 3-2 count before the pitcher loaded the bases after hitting Astudillo. Wallace scored Clare and Jones with a single and advanced Astudillo for another opportunity at a run. Speicher grounded out and plated Astudillo to make it 8-0 after three. The Lions were silenced in the fourth but responded with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Urbistondo led off with a single and was given a free pass home after Astudillo swatted a homerun to give the Lions a 10-0 edge. Wallace then made his way to third after numerous errors by the Rams, and King connected on a sac-fly to give the Lions an 11-0 advantage after five innings. Bluefield finally notched their two lone runs of the game in the top of the sixth, before Bryan added one more in the bottom of the frame after the Ram's pitcher hit Wallace with bases loaded to score Clare. The Lions came away with a 12-2 victory to begin the series against AAC opponent, Bluefield College.
Clare produced a perfect 4-for-4 performance at the plate, finishing with one RBI and two runs scored. Speicher went 2-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI, and two runs scored. Wallace led the team with three RBI after hitting 2-for-3 with one double. Astudillo concluded the contest 1-for-2 with his two-run homer in the fifth. Chris Sauve (JR/Mascouche, Quebec) picked up the win for the Lions after tossing six innings, allowing six hits and two runs, while walking one and striking out three. Brandon Marklund (SO/North Vancouver, Canada) entered for one inning and kept the Rams scoreless in the seventh while tallying one strikeout.
The 15 runs scored in Saturday's first game was the most by the Lions since their 18-6 win over Roosevelt University Mar. 11 of last year, which was one day away from being exactly one year apart. Despite the history of the offensive routing by Bryan, Bluefield took their only lead of the series with a 2-1 edge after the first inning. King compiled a remarkable day at the plate and put up the first run of the game for the Lions with a solo blast in the bottom of the first.
Clare led off for Bryan with a double and advanced to third after a single from Urbistondo. A single by Astudillo scored Clare for a 3-2 lead. Later in the inning the Lions loaded the bases and plated a run after Speicher hit into a fielder's choice. Astudillo made his way home after King knocked a single to put the Lions up 4-2 after two.
Bryan managed a 6-2 lead after three innings before exploding for seven runs in the bottom of the fourth. Two walks and a double by Morhardt started the rally for the Lions as King and Calhoun scored. Yoho entered as a courtesy runner and Jones was walked, placing runners on first and second. Urbistondo reached first on an error, which loaded the bases for Bryan. A single from Astudillo and an error by the Rams scored Yoho, Jones, and Urbistondo. Speicher kept the scoring alive with an RBI double and was plated directly after with an RBI single from King. The Lions had a 13-2 lead over the Rams after four innings.
Bluefield slowly chipped away with one run scored in each the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, but two runs in the bottom of the sixth by the Lions and the already overwhelming lead took all hopes away as Bryan took a 15-5 decision after seven innings.
King was a spotless 4-for-4 in his at-bats and compiled three RBI and three runs scored. Morhardt finished 4-for-5 for a team-high four RBI with two doubles. Astudillo went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. Speicher and Wallace also had multi-hit performances with two hits apiece. LJ Rowden (SR/Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) led the Lions through the first five innings from the mound, while the Rams scored three runs in 17 at-bats. He finished with two walks and four strikeouts. Jared Breazeale (JR/Rockwood, Tenn.) lasted one inning with one earned run, and Travis Moore (JR/Hastings, Mich.) relieved for one inning and ended with one unearned.
The Rams were able to slow down the high intensity of the Lions in the final game of the series and outhit Bryan 5-3, but Astudillo's second homerun this season coming in the bottom of the second to score three runs would be all the Lions needed to cruise to a 3-0 victory and sweep of their fellow AAC foe. With two outs in the bottom of the second, both Jones and Urbistondo were walked. Astudillo took a strike for the first pitch. He concentrated and watched as the second pitch was called a ball. The third pitch was just what he was looking for, and he launched a three-run homer over the fence.
Francisco Colin (SR/Las Vegas, Nev.) pitched a notable four innings, surrendering only four hits while striking out two. Zeke Colby (SR/Chico, Calif.), Jose Hernandez (SR/Perth Amboy, N.J.), and Chad Burrows (JR/Nassau, Bahamas) each threw one inning apiece. Colby added one strikeout, and Burrows chipped in two strikeouts.
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