Dayton, Tenn. – The No. 21 Bryan Lions Baseball team will enter postseason play as the No. 2 seed in the 2016 Appalachian Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament after swiping the series 2-1 against fellow AAC foe, Reinhardt University (Ga.), over the weekend.
Late runs by the Eagles in game one on Friday weren't enough as the Lions were paced by Crandon Wallace (SR/Nassau, Bahamas) with a homerun and four doubles registered by Brookes Jones (JR/Franklin,Tenn.), Preston King (SR/Kingston, Tenn.), Evan Speicher (SR/Chattanooga, Tenn.), and Wallace to provide Bryan with a 7-5 win.
Starting pitcher, LJ Rowden (SR/Soddy Daisy, Tenn.), aided the Lions in game two as he led Bryan to a 6-2 victory, allowing only six hits and two runs through seven innings of work. Jesus Astudillo (SO/Caracas, Venezuela)'s lone hit in the three-game series occurred in the second game as he notched his 9th homer this season. Speicher and Andrew Urbistondo (SR/Stockton, Calif.) tallied extra base hits, as each knocked a double in the contest.
Reinhardt managed to avoid the sweep as they took to Senter Field on Saturday and outhit Bryan 15-7 en route to a comfortable 10-5 upset. Despite hot hitting on the Lion's side from Wallace with his 9th homerun of the year, tying King and Astudillo for the team high, and doubles from Jones, King, Speicher, and Wallace Bryan dropped the final game of the three-game series to end regular season with an impressive 36-16 overall record and 18-9 conference record.
It only took two swings of the bat to put Reinhardt on the board first in game one. Two singles and a double later, the Eagles soared ahead with a 2-0 lead, but Bryan worked to cut the deficit to one in the bottom of the frame. Langston Calhoun (SR/Berkeley, Calif.) was patient at the plate and reached first on a walk, which was followed up by a single from Justin Morhardt (SO/Winsted, Conn.) that advanced Calhoun to third. Cody Rhinehart (SR/Ooltewah, Tenn.) delivered with an RBI single, scoring Calhoun to make it a 2-1 ballgame.
Bryan capitalized in the second inning after Reinhardt couldn't produce a run and captured the lead when Wallace cracked the second pitch thrown his way for a solo shot over the fence and two back-to-back doubles from Speicher and King that scored Speicher for a 3-2 Lions lead.
The Lions continued to build onto their lead in the third when Andrew Urbistondo was walked, put in scoring position at third from a double by Jones, and continued home on a passed ball. Astudillo put Bryan up 5-2 with a sacrifice fly to center that plated Jones.
Two doubles broke the silence for the Eagles in the top of the fourth as they lowered the margin to 5-3. Once again, Reinhardt chipped in one run in the top of the fifth to cut Bryan's lead to one, 5-4, but the Lions countered with a two-run dagger in the bottom of the frame that proved enough to outlast the Eagles. After walking Urbistondo and Jones to leadoff the inning, Astudillo laid down a sac-bunt to the third baseman that allowed Urbistondo to take third and Jones move to second. It was evident the play was a successful setup as Wallace ripped a double on a 1-1 count that scored Urbistondo and Jones for the final runs of Bryan, giving the Lions a 7-4 edge.
An error and groundout followed by a single brought around one run in the top of the seventh for Reinhardt. With runners on first and second with only one out, Bryan cut all hopes from the Eagles when Astudillo gathered a grounder and slung the ball to Speicher at second who in turn roped a throw to Wallace at first to end the game in double play style, giving the Lions a 7-5 win.
Chad Burrows (JR/Nassau, Bahamas) earned the win after tossing five innings and surrendering seven hits and four runs to move his record this season to 2-3. He went on to record six strikeouts in the game. Landon Mosteller (FR/Clarksville, Tenn.) relieved 1.1 innings, allowing one hit and one run. Brandon Marklund (SO/North Vancouver, Canada) finished the final two outs in the game, allowing one hit in the process and recording the save.
Wallace finished a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate with one homer and one double with a team-high three RBIs. Urbistondo and Jones led the Lions in the runs scored column with two apiece. King went 1-for-3 with one RBI, while Speicher hit 1-for-3 with one run scored. King, Jones, Speicher, and Wallace collected one double in the game, respectively.
One of Reinhardt's six hits in the game came in the top of the first when the Eagle's Chap Lindstrom went the distance on a 1-1 count to strike first against the Lions. Bryan countered in the second when Rhinehart was walked, put in scoring position at third from an Urbistondo double, and brought home from a sac-fly by Jones to level the score 1-1.
Rowden gave up only one more run in the game during the third, which was the result of a single and double. The senior hurler kept the Eagles scoreless through the final four innings as the offense pieced together five runs to come out on top.
Reinhardt couldn't contain Rhinehart as he swatted a leadoff triple in the bottom of the fourth frame. Urbistondo tied the game 2-2 with an RBI single that plated Rhinehart. A hit-by-pitch and a fly out put Urbistondo on third for the go-ahead run, before Speicher connected for a single that plated "Urbs" to jump ahead 3-2.
Bryan added three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, with the first two happening in dramatic fashion as Urbistondo reached base with a leadoff single before Astudillo cracked a deep two-run bomb. Speicher continued the momentum with a double, and King produced a single that allowed Speicher to give the Lions a 6-2 score that would hold as a final.
Rowden concluded regular season with a 3.74 ERA and an impressive 9-2 record after a complete seven innings of six-hit and two-run ball. He whiffed six batters and walked one in the win.
Urbistondo had one double after hitting a flawless 3-for-3 at the plate with one run scored and one RBI. Speicher and King turned in multi-hit performances, while Speicher scored one run and batted in one run with one double and King aided with an RBI. Rhinehart was 1-for-2 in the outing with two runs scored and a triple. Astudillo had one hit, but he made the most of it as he smashed a ball over the fence to score two runs for the Lions.
Unfortunately, a quality start given by senior Hunter Tipton (SR/Taylorsville, Ky.) from the mound was not enough for Bryan to prevail in the final game as a combined eight runs were allowed in the final three innings to give Reinhardt the 10-5 upset.
One of only two runs given up by Tipton came on the second pitch of the game as an Eagle drove a ball over the fence for a homerun that presented Reinhardt with an early 1-0 lead.
It wasn't until the third inning that the Lions came alive and established a 3-1 lead. After Speicher was walked and a pitch hit King, Calhoun stepped up to bat and carefully considered the first pitch and determined he liked it as he brought the bat around and delivered a three-run homer for his seventh homerun this year.
A homerun in the top of the sixth for the Eagles seemed to provide a spark as Reinhardt clobbered three doubles and one single to retake a 5-3 lead after the top of the seventh.
Wallace answered back in the bottom of the seventh with his second homerun of the series to bring the Lions within one, 5-4.
With bases loaded and two outs, it seemed like a rally might be coming from Bryan in the eighth. Reinhardt's pitcher walked the next batter, which gave the Lions a free run. Focus wasn't fully lost on the mound as a Lion jumped on a pitch and flied out for the final out, getting the Eagles out of the unfavorable situation.
Bryan returned the favor in the top of the ninth with the game evened up at 5-5. The Eagles managed to load the bases and four balls from the Lions allowed the go-ahead run a free pass home. Three additional singles surrendered gave way to an overwhelming five-run lead in the ninth for Reinhardt. Bryan was unable to rebound in the bottom of the frame as the Eagles took a 10-5 decision.
Tipton threw six innings, allowing only six hits and two runs with two walks and three strikeouts. Francisco Colin (SR/Las Vegas, Nev.) battled for one inning, giving up four hits and three runs. Jose Hernandez (SR/Perth Amboy, N.J.) was awarded his first loss of the season, now sitting at 4-1 with four saves, after having two hits and four runs scored against him through 1.2 innings. Zane Glass (SO/Murfreesboro, Tenn.) stood on the mound in search of the final out and surrendered three hits and one run.
Rhinehart had a remarkable day at the plate after going 3-for-5. Calhoun and Wallace turned in standout performances as Calhoun led the Lions in RBIs after hitting 2-for-4 with a three-run homerun and Wallace was 1-for-4 with a solo blast.
The Bryan Lions wrapped up the regular season 36-16, which is one of the best overall finishes since the beginning of the program. An AAC record of 18-9 this year is also one of the best conference marks at the end of regular season with the only other close records coming last year 2014-15 (17-10) and 2011-12 (17-7).
Senior Day Ceremony
After the two games on Friday, the Bryan College Baseball Program took time to honor its 15 outstanding seniors. Each year, the Lions set aside a day to honor a senior group who have dedicated themselves to the program, and this year's group were truly unique as they were recognized as the winningest class in program history.
The 2016 Senior Class won over 140 games in their career, took the conference championship crown in 2014, and experienced back-to-back NAIA Regional Appearances (first in program history), but above everything else, Head Baseball Coach and Athletic Director, Taylor Hasty said, "This class has exemplified what it means to be a Bryan Lion both on and off the field. It is our prayer that these young men will continue to grow in Christ and mature into men of integrity, honor, and responsibility. May God bless them and lead them down a path of success in all of their endeavors."
- Langston Calhoun
- Preston King
- Hunter Tipton
- Cody Rhinehart
- Crandon Wallace
- Jose Hernandez
- Evan Speicher
- Andrew Urbistondo
- Francisco Colin
- LJ Rowden
- Trevor Hayes
- Brian Baxter
- Sawyer Bowen
- Daniel Bower
- Max Chadsey (SR/Chilliwack, British Columbia)
2016 AAC Baseball Tournament (May 9-12)
The Bryan Lions head into the AAC tournament as the No. 2 seed, while the 5th ranked team in the nation, Tennessee Wesleyan, takes the No. 1 seed.
The tournament format consists of eight teams in two pools of four. In pool play, it is a double-elimination within pool play. The two pool winners will then meet in a winner-take-all championship game to determine the 2016 Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament champion.
The first game for Bryan will be against No. 7 seed Milligan College (Tenn.) on Monday, May 9 at 4pm. All of the tournament action will be played in Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport, Tenn.
For all the information about the AAC Tournament, visit the tournament page here.