Lebanon, Tenn. – The No. 18 Lions entered Tuesday's contest at Cumberland University coming off an exhausting weekend of action at fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference foe, Union College (Ky.), where Bryan managed to prevail in two games where one run proved to be the deciding factor (W-4-3, W-9-8). Despite consistent play throughout by the Lions, an early 10 runs plated by the Cumberland Phoenix through the first three innings was enough to outlast Bryan 11-8. The Phoenix improved to 28-23 overall, while the Lions dropped their overall record to 32-14.
It was all Jesus Astudillo (SO/Caracas, Venezuela) as he put the Lions on the board first in the top of the second with his sixth homerun of the season coming on a full count that traveled over the left field fence.
Three hits and three errors was all the Phoenix needed to produce a six-run effort in the bottom of the second, taking a 6-1 lead.
Evan Speicher (SR/Chattanooga, Tenn.) led off the top of the third for Bryan with a single up the middle, and a single by Preston King (SR/Kingston, Tenn.) advanced Speicher to second. Langston Calhoun (SR/Berkeley, Calif.) put Speicher in scoring position at third after hitting into a fielder's choice. Justin Morhardt (SO/Winsted, Conn.) registered his first RBI of the game after hitting into a fielder's choice that plated Speicher to make it 6-2.
Cumberland began the bottom of the third frame with two walks and a single, loading the bases with only one out. The Lion's Zane Glass (SO/Murfreesboro, Tenn.) was unable to retire the next batter after entering for Travis Moore (JR/Hastings, Mich.) and allowed the Phoenix a free run by means of a walk. A groundout and a double brought in three additional runs for Cumberland as they separated from Bryan with a 10-2 advantage.
King made his way home in the top of the fifth after initially reaching base on a fielding error. He took advantage of a wild pitch and traveled to second, before cutting the Phoenix's lead to seven when scoring the third run for the Lions on a single swatted by Calhoun to the right side. Unfortunately a throwing error, two wild pitches, and a balk allowed Cumberland to respond with their final run of the game in the bottom of the fifth frame, bringing the score to 11-3.
Crandon Wallace (SR/Nassau, Bahamas) chipped away at the deficit in the sixth inning with a two-run blast, his seventh homerun of the year, connecting with the first pitch he saw to score Astudillo and worked to make it a 11-5 difference.
King locked in his second hit of the outing to lead off the Lions in the top of the seventh, doubling down the left field line. Another wild pitch came in favor of Bryan, allowing King in scoring position at third. He brought the score to 11-6 after Morhardt lined out to center field and he strolled home.
Bryan pulled through with what looked like their best start to an inning in the game and hopes of a comeback as Calhoun, Morhardt, and Cody Rhinehart (SR/Ooltewah, Tenn.) each singled to load the bases with no outs. Andrew Urbistondo (SR/Stockton, Calif.) looked for a big swing in his at-bat, but he remained patient and watched as the fourth ball was recorded to bring Calhoun in for a free run. Brookes Jones (JR/Franklin,Tenn.) followed with a hit ball into a fielder's choice, scoring a run for the Lions while picking up the first out at third base. Unable to produce any more hits, two strikeouts ended the game for Bryan as Cumberland came away with an 11-8 victory.
Brandon Marklund (SO/North Vancouver, Canada) picked up only his second loss of the season after a struggling start: pitching one inning, allowing three hits and six runs (three earned), walking two, and striking out one. Moore entered for 1.1 innings and gave up one hit and three runs along with three walks. Glass was worked for 3.2 innings of three-hit ball and two runs scored. Landon Mosteller (FR/Clarksville, Tenn.) was the only Lion to keep a clean slate from the mound as he held the Phoenix hitless through two innings, walking one, and throwing two strikeouts.
Speicher, King, Calhoun, and Wallace each led the team in the hits category with two hits apiece. Morhardt and Wallace ended the battle with a team-high two RBIs. King and Astudillo had two runs scored apiece to lead the team. Wallace finished with an impressive performance, securing both hits of his for extra bases with a double and a homerun. Astudillo made the most of his one connection, taking it the distance for a homer. Also, King blasted one of his hits for a double.
The Bryan Lions remain on the road this weekend as they travel to the mountains of Montreat, N.C. for an AAC three-game series showdown against the Cavaliers of Montreat College. Friday's game is slated for 2pm, and the first pitch on Saturday is at 1pm.
For the full Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.