Laurinburg, N.C. – On Friday, the Lions followed up a controlling 6-4 game one win of the three game series against fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference opponent, St. Andrews University, with a comeback 12-7 victory after falling behind by five runs after four innings of play. Bryan's success carried into Saturday's single nine-inning game as the Lions exploded for three runs in the top of the first and two more in second to coast to a 7-5 win and mark their second consecutive AAC sweep in the past two weeks.
After taking the series, Bryan improves their overall record to 21-7 and 7-2 in conference action. St. Andrews struggle with a 1-8 AAC record and 12-13 overall record this season.
In game one on Friday the Lions jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after two innings, but the St. Andrews Knights charged their way to three innings in the third to level things out 3-3. One more run in the top of the fourth and two more in the top of the fifth would be all Bryan needed despite St. Andrews adding one run in the bottom of the fifth, sealing a 6-4 win.
Hudson Clare (JR/Jacksonville, Fla.) led off for the Lions in the top of the second and was hit by a pitch before advancing to second after Brookes Jones (JR/Franklin,Tenn.)' sac-bunt. Andrew Urbistondo (SR/Stockton, Calif.) managed to reach base on a bobbled ball, which put runners on first and third. With two outs, Crandon Wallace (SR/Nassau, Bahamas) delivered a single to center, plating Clare and sending Urbistondo to second. Evan Speicher (SR/Chattanooga, Tenn.) had a quality at bat and ended up reaching first on walk, which loaded the bases for Bryan. Preston King (SR/Kingston, Tenn.) constructed a two RBI single, scoring Urbistondo and Wallace to give the Lions a comfortable 3-0 lead. The top of third was uneventful for Bryan, but in the bottom of the frame St. Andrews landed three straight singles and a double to even the score 3-3.
Urbistondo singled to center to lead off the Lions in the top of the fourth. Wallace was walked, putting runners on first and second. King's hot bat cranked a double to right field, which scored Bryan's lone run of the inning and put the Lions back on top, 4-3.
The Lions extended their lead in the top of the fifth when Clare was the Lion's first runner to reach base after being hit again. Jones was walked, and then a wild pitch from the Knight's pitcher gave way to runners on second and third. Urbistondo smashed a double to center and plated Clare and Jones to put the Lions out of reach from the Knights. In the bottom of the frame, St. Andrews pieced together one more run, but Bryan kept the Knights from any other runs to earn a 6-4 win.
The Knights outhit the Lions 10-9 after Chris Sauve (JR/Mascouche, Quebec) started at the mound for Bryan and tossed four innings of nine-hit ball while surrendering four runs in route to his fifth win of the season. Jose Hernandez (SR/Perth Amboy, N.J.) relieved for three innings and held St. Andrews to no runs and only one hit. Both Lions pitchers recorded three strikeouts, respectively.
King finished with an impressive 4-for-4 in game one with a team-high three RBI. Urbistondo was the only other Lions with a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with one double, two RBI, and two runs scored.
St. Andrews was able to strike first in game two with one run in the bottom of the first, but Bryan countered with a two-run outing in the top of the second. Urbistondo singled to center and was advanced to second after a single to center from Wallace. St. Andrews hit Speicher and loaded the bases for the Lions. The pitching continued to be baffled as the Lions took a 2-1 lead after the pitcher walked King and balked while bases were loaded.
This would be the game to set the mood for the duration of the series as the Lions continued to scrap in the third and fourth innings but were unable to produce a run as the Knights scored four in the third and two more in the fourth to take a significant 7-2 advantage.
Bryan wouldn't go down without a fight and managed to put runners on first and second with two consecutive walks and no outs. Clare notched a double to center to plate one run and put Justin Morhardt (SO/Winsted, Conn.) in scoring position at third. Jones followed with an RBI single, and Urbistondo scored the third run of the inning with a single to cut St. Andrew's lead to 7-5.
King continued to dominate with a single to leadoff the Lions in the top of the sixth. Langston Calhoun (SR/Berkeley, Calif.) smacked a double and advanced King to scoring position at third. Morhardt was intentionally walked, which loaded the bases for the Lions. Jones connected on a pitch for a long sac-fly, scoring King and advancing Calhoun to third. Urbistondo brought his bat around for a single, plating Calhoun to make it a tied 7-7 ballgame. Bryan was aided with a wild pitch that put the Lions on top 8-7, before the Lions were supported with two more runs after Jesus Astudillo (SO/Caracas, Venezuela)'s third homerun in his past six games. He sat at a 2-1 count and sent the next pitch beyond the back left fence, creating even more space for the Lions with a 10-7 edge.
Morhardt capped off the comeback victory with his own two-run homer in the top of the seventh after King reached base on a double for a 12-7 game two win.
Francisco Colin (SR/Las Vegas, Nev.) struck out three and walked two after giving up seven hits and seven runs (six earned) during a four-inning span. Landon Mosteller (FR/Clarksville, Tenn.) tallied one strikeout and gave up one hit in his two innings on the mound. Chad Burrows (JR/Nassau, Bahamas) closed the final inning and surrendered two hits while striking out two.
King and Urbistondo led the Lions once again in game two with three hits apiece. Astudillo and Morhardt finished out the contest with exhilarating homeruns to finish out the scoring summary for the Lions, while each picked up three RBI, respectively, and Morhardt ended with a team-high three runs scored. King, Clare, Astudillo, and Calhoun each had a double in the performance.
Despite the Lions scoring three runs to begin the final game of the series on Saturday, the Knights luckily made out of the situation before further damage was done as Bryan left bases loaded after grounding out to end the top of the first. Speicher cracked a single to lead off the Lions and advanced to second on a wild throw. King reached first on a fielder's choice, and Speicher scored resulting from another wild throw from St. Andrews. King took advantage of the mishandle and sped to scoring position at third base. Calhoun plated King with an RBI single to center. The Lions had runners on first and second after Morhardt was walked. The runners advanced to second and third after a sac-bunt from Clare. Jones generated an RBI single, which improved Bryan's lead to 3-0 after one inning.
The Lions didn't lay off the pedal as Speicher singled, stole second, and advanced to third on a wild throw to begin the top of the second. Calhoun grounded out to first, which scored Speicher for a 4-0 lead. Morhardt patiently waited as a full-count emerged and then sent a pitch over the fence in right for his second homerun of the series, putting space behind Bryan as they led 5-0 after two innings.
As the bottom of the third unfolded, the Knights rallied and cut away at Bryan's lead with a two RBI double, bringing the score to 5-2. The Lions countered with two runs in the top of fourth after Wallace was walked to start the inning, advanced to second after stealing a bag, and then made his way to third after a ground out from King. Calhoun plated Walled with a single to left and then advanced to second on the throw. Morhardt continued to make a statement as he punched a double to right, scoring Calhoun to go up 7-2. St. Andrews chipped away again with a two RBI single in the bottom of the frame and added one run in the bottom of the seventh, but Bryan's lead proved to be too great as the Lions wrapped up the final game with a 7-5 edge over the Knights.
Through seven games that he has played this season, starting pitcher LJ Rowden (SR/Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) has earned six wins for the Lions and managed a 4.23 ERA. In six innings, he paced the way to three strikeouts, one walk, eight hits, and four runs (three earned). Brandon Marklund (SO/North Vancouver, Canada), Hernandez, and Burrows each handed in one inning of work, respectively, while Marklund and Hernandez had one strikeout apiece.
Calhoun produced an impressive 3-for-5 at the plate with a team-high three RBI and two runs scored. The only other Lion with three hits was Morhardt who had a remarkable 3-for-4 day with two RBI and one run scored with the only homerun of the game and one double. Wallace collected two stolen bags, while Speicher stole a lone bag.
After a second consecutive conference sweep and a come-from-behind win to seal the deal in game two, Head Bryan Baseball Coach, Taylor Hasty stated, "I am proud of our team and the effort across the board this weekend. It's always tough to go on the road in conference and we faced some adversity, which we were tough enough to overcome."
The Lions return to action with two midweek matchups at home, followed up by a conference battle on the road against rival No. 12 Tennessee Wesleyan in a three game series on Friday (2pm) and Saturday (1pm and 4pm). On Tuesday, Bryan hosts Cumberland University (Tenn.) at 5pm and then hosts Midland University (Ne.) at 3pm on Thursday.
For the full Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.