Dayton, Tenn. – Even with a convincing 10-5 victory over the Skyhawks of Point University (Ga.) to get baseball action underway on Saturday, Apr. 9, at Senter Field, Point managed to rally in the final game just as they had in Friday's 8-4 upset and take the series from the No. 15 Lions in comeback fashion.
Point applied pressure to Bryan in the top of the seventh of the series finale with two runs to take a 5-4 lead. Crandon Wallace (SR/Nassau, Bahamas) reached first on a fielder's choice and then advanced to second on a stolen base to give the Lions a chance for the tying run in the bottom of the seventh frame. Preston King (SR/Kingston, Tenn.) was the Lion to deliver a crucial hit, connecting for a single and bringing Wallace around to even the score 5-5 and head into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, it looked as if the Skyhawks would take a 6-5 lead with one run scoring off an error, but a further error proved fatal for the Lions after a throw to second in attempt to catch a runner stealing went awry and resulted in two additional runs to be tacked on. Bryan was unable to muster up a response in the bottom of the eighth as Point took an 8-5 decision over the Lions and took the series 2-1.
After an 8-4 loss on Friday, the Lions set the mood early on Saturday in the first game of the day. King and Hudson Clare (JR/Jacksonville, Fla.) led the Lions with three RBI, respectively, resulting from two hits apiece and each taking their turn sending a ball over the fence. Five Lions compiled a multi-hit performance. Evan Speicher (SR/Chattanooga, Tenn.) finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI. Langston Calhoun (SR/Berkeley, Calif.) also went 2-for-4 and crossed home twice while plating one run. Andrew Urbistondo (SR/Stockton, Calif.) tallied two hits in three at-bats and drove in one run. Through 5.2 innings of work, Jose Hernandez (SR/Perth Amboy, N.J.) earned his third win and now sits 3-0 this season after allowing five hits and five runs (four earned) to the Skyhawks, while walking four and striking out seven. Landon Mosteller (FR/Clarksville, Tenn.) entered in the top of the sixth to pick up a crucial final out to stop any momentum by Point. Chad Burrows (JR/Nassau, Bahamas) closed the final inning and retired two Skyhawks by strikeouts.
It looked as if Point would start Saturday just as they had Friday with two runs to start the first inning, but Bryan countered with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Runners were on first and second after singles from King and Calhoun. Clare's sixth homerun of the year came on a three-run blast, giving Bryan a 3-2 lead after one inning.
The Lions continued to add runs in the bottom of the second inning. Jesus Astudillo (SO/Caracas, Venezuela) took scoring position on third and Wallace took second after walks and a wild pitch. Speicher made contact for an RBI single and advanced Wallace to third. King made a statement on a 1-2 count and cleared the bases for his eighth homerun of the year and his second of the series, extending Bryan's lead to 7-2.
Clare scored an insurance run in the bottom of the third after singling, taking second after a sacrifice bunt from Brookes Jones (JR/Franklin,Tenn.), and then was sent home by an RBI double from Urbistondo.
The Skyhawks broke their silence with one run in the fourth, but the Lions had an answer once again with two runs to counter in the bottom of the frame. Speicher led off with a single and took second after King laid down a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher. Calhoun drove Speicher home with an RBI triple and then scored himself due to an error by Point for a 10-3 Bryan lead.
The Skyhawks chipped in two runs in the sixth but it wouldn't be enough as Bryan evened the series 1-1 with a 10-5 final.
Point managed to lead 1-0 through two innings, but Bryan answered in the bottom of the third inning with four runs. Urbistondo was in the leadoff spot and notched a single. Astudillo followed and reached first base on a walk. Wallace took the first pitch he saw and hit a single, and both Urbistondo and Astudillo were able to march their way around the bases for two runs after an error by the Skyhawks. Speicher trailed with a sacrifice fly, which scored Wallace. King took a free base after standing in for a hit-by-pitch. The count read 3-1 before Calhoun produced his ninth double of the year, putting King in scoring position at third. Point loaded the bases after intentionally walking Justin Morhardt (SO/Winsted, Conn.). Clare watched as four consecutive balls were thrown his way, leading to King scoring a free run and the Lions extending their advantage to 4-1.
The Lions were rattled as the Skyhawks slowly cut the deficit with one run in the fifth and one run in sixth before regaining a lead in the seventh off a two-run homerun, which brought the score to 5-4. In need of an answer in the bottom of the seventh, Astudillo was patient at the plate and took a free trip to first after eight pitches. Wallace was able to reach base on a fielder's choice, which put the runner out at second. Wallace continued his way around the bases by using his speed to steal second. King was unshaken by the pressure and brought in the tying run with a single, plating Wallace to make it an even 5-5. Bryan had the opportunity to end the game with one runner on and only one out, but unfortunately all hopes were taken away after Point turned a double play.
Two outs and runners on first and third set the scene in the top of the eighth when the Skyhawks scored three runs to seal the game. An error after Point hit an infield grounder allowed the Skyhawks to score the runner on third, but an attempt to steal second in the midst of the play ended roughly for the Lions as miscommunication gave way to a thrown ball into the outfield as the bases cleared for Point, separating from Bryan 8-5. Unable to make up any room in the bottom of the eighth handed the Skyhawks an 8-5 win, improving to 18-21 overall and 11-7 in Appalachian Athletic Conference play. The Lions bring their overall record to 30-11 and 12-6 in AAC action.
Wallace finished 1-for-2 with a team-high two runs scored and also picked up one RBI. King had a notable one run scored and one RBI after hitting 1-for-3. Speicher, Calhoun, Morhardt, and Urbistondo each had one hit in the contest, respectively. Francisco Colin (SR/Las Vegas, Nev.) tossed six innings for Bryan and surrendered seven hits and three runs (two earned), while walking two and striking out four. Chad Burrows was in for one inning of work and gave up one hit and two runs. Travis Moore (JR/Hastings, Mich.) was given the loss, moving to 1-1 this season, after pitching one inning and surrendering one hit and three unearned runs.
The No. 21 Campbellsville University Tigers (Ky.) take another shot at the Lions on Tuesday, Apr. 12 at 4pm, but this time the newly ranked opponent will battle Bryan at their home in Campbellsville, Ky. Mar. 30 marked the first time these two teams met this year, and the Lions prevailed with a comfortable 14-3 victory. Since then, the Tigers have played impressive ball as they swept the No. 10 team in the nation, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), on Apr. 1-2 (3-1, 6-1, 6-5) dropping them to No. 24.
For the full Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.