Montreat, N.C. – Despite a 6-5 slip-up in the middle game, the No. 18 Bryan Lions Baseball team outscored the Cavaliers of Montreat College 22-3 through two other contests to seal the series 2-1 with the help of an overwhelming 11-2 final in today's game.
Hunter Tipton (SR/Taylorsville, Ky.) took complete control from the mound in the series finale with seven shutout innings to earn his 5th win of the season, moving to 5-0 with an impressive 1.58 ERA. Langston Calhoun (SR/Berkeley, Calif.) and Cody Rhinehart (SR/Ooltewah, Tenn.) notched solo homeruns, while Justin Morhardt (SO/Winsted, Conn.) aided with a grand slam to lift the Lions past the Cavaliers.
The series originally started on Saturday with two seven-inning games, but due to rain the Friday single game was moved to Monday.
On Saturday, Bryan got off to an early lead with an RBI single in the top of the first by Andrew Urbistondo (SR/Stockton, Calif.) that scored Calhoun. The Lions grew their lead to 8-0 after exploding for seven runs in the top of the second frame. Crandon Wallace (SR/Nassau, Bahamas) was walked and Preston King (SR/Kingston, Tenn.) followed with a two-run homerun. The Cavaliers couldn't tame the Lions as Calhoun and Morhardt delivered two consecutive doubles, scoring Calhoun and adding to Bryan's lead. Morhardt and Hudson Clare (JR/Jacksonville, Fla.) took to third and second when Urbistondo loaded the bases with a single. Brookes Jones (JR/Franklin,Tenn.) took it upon himself to clear the bases as he jumped at the first pitch and sent it the distance for the grand slam. Montreat managed to tally their first run of the game in the bottom of the second, making it 8-1.
Bryan picked up an insurance run in the fourth with a similar situation as the start of the game as Calhoun was in scoring position at third and was sent home with an RBI single by Urbistondo.
The rest of the game was all Jesus Astudillo (SO/Caracas, Venezuela) as he made difficult work at the plate for the Cavaliers. In the fifth, Astudillo was leading off the Lions when he swung at the first pitch but missed, patiently waited as the second pitch was a ball, and the third pitch was just what he was looking for as he connected for a solo shot, putting Bryan up 10-1. As the seventh inning unfolded and Astudillo made his way to the plate for another appearance, it only took two pitches for him to clobber his second solo homerun of the game. The Lions held on for an 11-1 victory and 1-0 start to the series.
L.J. Rowden pieced together a quality start for the Lions, allowing five hits and giving up one run through a full seven innings. He walked three and struck out seven during his time at the mound. Jones led the team with four RBIs, all coming in one swing of the bat during his grand slam. King and Astudillo each notched 2 RBIs, respectively, as King homered and Astudillo delivered two pitches over the fence. Urbistondo finished 3-for-4 with one run scored and two RBIs. Calhoun ended 2-for-4 with a team-high three runs scored. Morhardt also added an RBI and scored one run after hitting 2-for-4.
Outhitting Montreat 11-7 wasn't enough for Bryan in game two. A four run performance in the third inning by the Cavaliers seemed like it may have been the dagger until two runs in the top of the seventh gave the Lions hope as it leveled the score 5-5. Extra innings appeared to be needed to conclude the game as Lion's pitcher Chad Burrows (JR/Nassau, Bahamas) got a batter to groundout and struck out a Cavalier swinging, but Conner Bryant had other plans as he ended the game in walk-off fashion with a solo homerun on a 1-1 count, giving Montreat their only win of the series.
Astudillo provided a double, which plated Rhinehart and Urbistondo for the Lions first two runs of the game in the second inning. A lead off single from Calhoun eventually gave way to him taking scoring position at third before Rhinehart landed a single to plate Calhoun for Bryan's third run. Astudillo initially reached base in the seventh with a leadoff single. King plated Astudillo with a single, while Morhardt allowed pinch runner, Cameron Yoho (JR/Collierville, Tenn.), to come home for the Lions final score of the game.
Francisco Colin (SR/Las Vegas, Nev.) picked up the loss as he lasted three innings and allowed five hits and four runs. Landon Mosteller (FR/Clarksville, Tenn.) relieved for two and a third innings, compiling up one hit and one unearned run while whiffing two Cavaliers. Burrows closed the final one and a third innings, giving up one hit and the winning run.
There was no hesitation as the Lions jumped ahead in the series finale with a solo homerun by Calhoun to set the mood after one inning on the diamond.
After a quite four innings of play, the Bryan Lions took all hope away from Montreat by making sure there wouldn't be an ending like Saturday's second game where one swing could make or break the final decision. A single by Speicher, a walk for King, and a single by Calhoun gave the Lions another look at a grand slam after Jones had already registered one earlier in the series. Instead of Jones, it was Morhardt's chance to shine as he cleared the bases with Bryan's second grand slam of the series. If the four-run bomb wasn't enough, Rhinehart added to the sting with a solo homerun directly after Morhardt's shot to create a 6-0 lead for Bryan.
The Lions weren't through as Speicher singled to put a runner on in the top of the seventh. King also followed with a single, and a single by Calhoun gave Speicher enough time to reach home to give Bryan a 7-0 advantage. Morhardt didn't let off the gas as he punched a double that scored King and Calhoun for a 9-0 edge.
An RBI single by Rhinehart and a wild pitch that scored Prentice Young (JR/Oak Ridge, Tenn.) allowed Bryan to take an 11-0 lead heading into the bottom of the final frame. Montreat avoided the blanking with two late runs as the Lions earned an 11-2 victory over their conference opponent.
Morhardt turned in a remarkable six RBIs after hitting 3-for-5 with a grand slam and a double. Calhoun and Rhinehart trailed with two RBIs apiece as each collected a homerun, respectively. Calhoun led the team in the runs scored category with four. Speicher finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored. King and Jones were the only other Lions to record a hit.
Tipton aided the Lions through seven innings after allowing only six hits and no runs to show for it, while fanning six. Brandon Marklund (SO/North Vancouver, Canada) gave up one hit and added one strikeout after relieving for one inning. Max Chadsey (SR/Chilliwack, British Columbia) saw only his second game this season from the mound after entering in the ninth and surrendering Montreat's lone runs and one hit.
By taking the series 2-1, Bryan improved to 34-15 overall and 16-8 in AAC play, while Montreat dropped their overall record to 12-36 and 6-18 in conference action.
Only one three-game conference series stands between the Bryan Lions and the end of their regular season as they host Reinhardt University (Ga.) Friday and Saturday (Apr. 29-30). The first pitch on Friday is slated for 6pm, and Saturday's start time is at 1pm.
For the full Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.