Dayton, Tenn. – The Point University Skyhawks (Ga.) were no stranger going head-to-head against top ranked opponents as they entered Friday's (Apr. 8) opening contest of a three-game series against the 15th ranked Bryan Lions. On Mar. 30, the Skyhawks hosted the No. 3 team in the nation, Faulkner University (Ala.), and outlasted the favored Eagles of Faulkner 9-7. The Lions were unable to stop their Appalachian Athletic Conference foe as the Skyhawks outhit Bryan 11-7, striking first for an early lead and securing a game changing four runs in the top of the seventh to seal an 8-4 victory.
Point caught a break to begin the game with a Lion error in the top of the first that resulted in the Skyhawks putting a run on the scoreboard before the Lions. Bryan answered in the bottom of the second frame to level the score, 1-1. Hudson Clare (JR/Jacksonville, Fla.) reached first on a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a fly out from Andrew Urbistondo (SR/Stockton, Calif.), and then was plated by Jesus Astudillo (SO/Caracas, Venezuela) from an RBI single.
A homerun by the second batter and an RBI single in the top of the fourth was all the Skyhawks needed to regain a lead, jumping ahead 3-1.
Point's Juan Reyes, who blasted the homerun to retake the lead, went on to notch his second homer of the game in the top of the sixth as he launched a ball over the back fence at Senter Field on a 2-1 count. Bryan countered with one run in the bottom of the inning. Evan Speicher (SR/Chattanooga, Tenn.) delivered a lead off single and then advanced to second when Langston Calhoun (SR/Berkeley, Calif.) was walked. Justin Morhardt (SO/Winsted, Conn.) drove Speicher in for the score with a single, bringing the score to 4-2.
The dagger came in the top of the seventh when the Skyhawks worked their way through six batters before the Lions could produce an out, eventually tallying their final four runs of the evening.
Brookes Jones (JR/Franklin,Tenn.) led off with a double, advanced to third on a fly out, and made his way home from a sacrifice fly by Astudillo to chip in one run in the seventh. The only Lion to go the distance was Preston King (SR/Kingston, Tenn.), who was patient as a 1-1 count built and then connected on the next pitch for his seventh homerun of the season coming in the bottom of the eighth. Point held on for an 8-4 win to start the conference series, improving to 17-20 overall and 10-6 in the AAC. Bryan controls an impressive 29-10 overall record and 11-5 record in conference action.
LJ Rowden (SR/Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) picked up only his second loss of the season (6-2) as he surrendered nine hits and six runs (four earned), along with walking three and striking out six. Zane Glass (SO/Murfreesboro, Tenn.) tossed one inning for the Lions and allowed two hits and two runs (one earned). Bryan's Travis Moore (JR/Hastings, Mich.) retired three batters by strikeouts and gave up no hits through two innings from the mound.
Speicher and Morhardt were the only Lions to come away with a multi-hit performance as each of them finished 2-for-4, respectively, with Speicher scoring one run and Morhardt collecting one RBI. Jones went 1-for-3 and him, Morhardt, and Speicher each had one double apiece. King had Bryan's only homerun, ending the day 1-for-4 with one run scored and one RBI. Astudillo registered a team-high two RBI, hitting 1-for-3.
The Lions look to top the Skyhawks tomorrow (Apr. 9) as they return to Senter Field for two games, with the first game slated for 1pm.
For the full Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.