Dayton, Tenn. – The Bryan College Lions Baseball team opened up their 2017 season over the weekend with a four-game series against River States Conference opponent, University of Rio Grande (Ohio). The matchup would be a battle with both teams receiving votes in the NAIA Preseason Top-25 Poll, and the meeting was not disappointing as each side split both Friday and Saturday for a 2-2 final.
The first game was the lowest scoring contest of the series, with Rio Grande dealing most of their damage in the first inning. The early three runs helped seal a game one win for the RedStorm, 4-2. The only extra-innings game over the weekend was in game two where a pair of runs tallied in the top of the sixth by Rio Grande and a lone run in the bottom of the frame by Bryan leveled the score 5-5. Both teams capitalized in the 10th inning, but it was the home team who dealt the last blow with a run in the bottom of the 12th to even the series 1-1 with a 7-6 win.
On day two Rio Grande went ahead 2-1 with an 11-6 victory over Bryan. Seven innings in the fourth and three more in the eighth by the RedStorm took all hope away from the Lions. Bryan wasn't going to let Rio Grande slip away in the final game. Trailing 9-6 going into the bottom of the sixth, the Lions rallied for 13 runs in the frame to calm the RedStorm in dramatic fashion, 19-12.
In game one, the Lions outhit the RedStorm 8-6 but a pair of errors allowed Rio Grande the lead and eventually the win. Chris Sauve (SR/Mascouche, Quebec) started on the mound for Bryan and was handed the loss after dealing six innings that saw four hits, four runs, three being earned runs, three walks, and a notable eight strikeouts. Austin Parrish (JR/Ringgold, Ga) relieved for three innings, surrendering two hits with zero runs, one walk and one strikeout. Wade Weinburger (FR/James Cistern, Bahamas) and Alec Turner (JR/Carlisle, OH) led the Lions with two hits apiece. Weinburger also tallied the only extra-base hit for Bryan, except Just Morhardt's lone bomb that traveled over the wall. Weinburger and Morhardt scored Bryan's two runs, and Weinburger was brought in by Brookes Jones (SR/Franklin,Tenn.) who was 1-of-4 at the plate. Fernando Garcia (JR/Kissimmee, Fla.) ended with the only stolen bag for the Lions and was 1-of-3 in game one.
Bryan was the first to get on the scoreboard in the second game when two walks followed by a single from Morhardt in the bottom of the first brought Weinburger home. A single in the second, sac-bunt, passed ball, and balk helped Rio Grande tie the score 1-1. The RedStorm gained the lead with a two-run homerun in the second, but the Lions countered in the bottom of the frame with Weinburger and Trevor Behrent (JR/Catawissa, Pa.) scoring off a two-RBI double blasted by Jones. The Lion's fielding silenced the RedStorm in the fourth and fifth innings, while Bryan tacked on a run as a result of impressive base running by Prentice Young (SR/Oak Ridge, Tenn.) and the help of a double by Weinburger. Two runs posted by Rio Grande in the top of the sixth put the pressure on Bryan, and they came through when Kila Zuttermeister (JR/Kailua, HI) singled, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt laid down by Sam Salyers (JR/Kingsport, Tenn.), and took third and made it home on two wild pitches to tie the lockup the game 5-5 through six innings. The game was slated for seven innings, and neither team could score until the 10th. Rio Grande scored the go-ahead run off a double, forcing Bryan to score in the bottom of the frame. Zuttermeister remained poised when he singled, stole second, and took advantage of an error by the RedStorm to even the game at 6-6. Chad Burrows (SR/Nassau, Bahamas) took his turn on the mound entering the 11th inning, and he made quick work of Rio Grande by striking out the first batter, getting a groundout, and acquiring the final out via strikeout. Unfortunately the Lions were unable to end the game in the bottom of the frame, but he set them up once again by getting the first batter to fly out to center field and whiffing the last two RedStorm players. With only one out to start the bottom of the 12th, Zuttermeister reached second after a single and wild pitch. He was put in scoring position at third by a quality sac-bunt from Mikey Rita (JR/Kalaheo, HI). The numerous errors by Rio Grande caught up to them as their seventh mishap cost them the game, allowing Zuttermeister to score and seal a 7-6 final for Bryan.
Burrows got the win with two innings pitched and no runs and four strikeouts to show for it. Tristan Legault (SO/Mascouche, Quebec) began the game and made it through five innings, giving up four hits, three earned runs, walked one, and collected a pair of K's. Landon Mosteller (SO/Clarksville, Tenn.) saw five innings of action and allowed three earned runs off five hits. He also walked one and had three strikeouts. Zuttermeister led all players in hits after going 3-of-6 with three runs scored and stolen base. Jones ended with a team-high 2 RBI's with a double after batting 1-of-3. Weinburger was the only other Lion with a multi-hit game, registering two hits in five at-bats with two runs scored, one RBI, and one double. Morhardt and Behrent had one hit and one RBI, respectively.
Rio Grande's pitching struggled to begin the third game, which started midday Saturday. In the bottom of the second frame, the RedStorm loaded bases with only one out. The first score was brought in when the pitcher hit Rita with a pitch, allowing Bryan a 1-0 lead. Rio Grande was lucky as they escaped with Bryan only notching one run in the inning. A myriad of hits and errors by the Lions was the dagger in the top of the fourth when the RedStorm scored an overwhelming seven runs. Bryan slimmed the margin to four runs when Garcia knocked a two-run single in the bottom of the fourth. Another error by the Lions in the fifth inning bumped Rio Grande's lead to 8-3. A single by Zuttermeister brought Lake Burris (SO/Chatsworth, Ga.) home in the fifth, closing the game to 8-4. Bryan wowed the crowd in the bottom of the sixth frame when Garcia smacked a solo homer, Behrent trailed with a triple, and an error aided Behrent in rounding the bases for a two-run inning that pulled the Lions within two, 8-6. It was all Bryan could muster as the Rio Grande produced three runs in the top of the eighth for an 11-6 win. Brandon Marklund (JR/North Vancouver, Canada) was given the loss after 3.1 inning pitched, four hits, seven runs with only one earned, one walk, and three strikeouts. Zane Glass (JR/Murfreesboro, Tenn.) battled for 4.2 innings and allowed six hits, four runs with three earned, one walk, and four strikeouts. Irvin Cespedes (FR/Wappinger Falls, NY) relieved for the last inning, walking two and sitting down one batter. Garcia had two hits with one going the distance, ending with two RBI's and one run scored. The only other extra-base hit was by Behrent who smashed a triple and went 1-of-4 with one run scored. Zuttermeister picked up an RBI after hitting 2-of-5 at the plate. Young scored one run and managed two stolen bases.
Both teams erupted in the fourth and final game. Bryan was fighting to level the series, and Rio Grande was hoping to win the series 3-1. The Lions clawed their way to 14 hits, and the RedStorm followed closely behind with 13. Bryan made only two errors and forced Rio Grande into five errors. Miguel Lopez (JR/Yaucco, Puerto Rico) started for the Lions and retired the first two batters after they flied out and picked up the third by a strikeout swinging. An error by the RedStorm allowed Bryan to get the first lead of the game, 1-0, which lasted until a four-run effort by Rio Grande in the top of the third. A double by Morhardt and an error gave way to courtesy runner Young using his speed to make it home, cutting the deficit to two runs, 4-2, through three innings of play. Three additional runs were added by Rio Grande in the top of the fourth, but Bryan responded in the bottom of the frame. The rally was sparked by a Weinburger homerun. He was patient at the plate, watched two balls called, and then found a pitch he liked. Three more runs were added after two walks, a single, hit by pitch, and a costly error. The Lions trailed by one, 7-6, after four innings. The RedStorm managed two more runs in the fifth and three runs in the seventh, but it made no dent after a 13-run performance by Bryan in the bottom of the sixth. Garcia began with a single, followed by Behrent with a double, a homerun by Morhardt, and a homer by Burris. Morhardt took a 1-0 count and cracked his second long shot of the series. Burris watched a 2-1 count build and lit up the RedStorm pitcher by completing the back-to-back homeruns. Weinburger doubled and scored when CJ Owens (SR/Oakland, Calif.) came after with a single. A walk and hit by pitch loaded the bases, setting up the Lions to create even more separation. Runs continued to pile up when Behrent singled, Morhardt walked, Garcia reached home on a wild pitch, Burris walked, Zuttermeister singled, and Weinburger ended all hope of Rio Grande with a three-run jack. Bryan took a 19-12 final to end the series 2-2 after two days on the diamond. Burrows picked up his second win after two innings of work on the mound, two hits, two runs with one earned, one walk, and one strikeout. Lopez ended with eight hits allowed, seven earned runs, one walk, and four strikeouts through 3.1 innings. Mosteller was in for a short period and showed only one hit surrendered, while Travis Moore (SR/Hastings, Mich.) had one inning where he gave up three hits, three earned runs, two walks, and one strikeout. Behrent was 3-of-4 with two runs scored, three RBI's, and one double. Weinburger had a pair of homeruns on 3-of-5 batting, ending with four RBI's and three runs scored. Morhardt doubled and homered, hitting 2-of-4 with a team-high five RBI's and one run scored. Burris' lone hit after going 1-of-2 was Bryan's other homerun. He scored two runs and collected one RBI. Garcia was the only other Lion with a multi-hit outing, going 2-of-4 with two runs scored. Rita was 1-of-1 with two runs scored and led all players with two stolen bags.
The Lions continue their challenging start to the season with a matchup versus the No. 9 team in the country, Missouri Baptist University. The three game series will take place at home on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10-11. The first pitch is being thrown out 3pm on Friday. Game two will follow on Friday, with the final game on Saturday slated for 1pm.
For the full Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.