Cleveland, Ga. – The 14th ranked Bryan College Lions Baseball Team hit the road on Friday to begin a three-game series with fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference opponent, Truett-McConnell University (Ga.). The Lions took control of a 2-0 lead heading into Saturday's series finale with a 3-1 win in game one and fended off the Bears for a 10-6 final in the second game. Bryan has now won 14 straight contests and improves their overall record to 19-5 and AAC record to 5-0. Truett-McConnell, who is receiving votes in the top-25 poll, falls to 17-8 overall and 2-3 in conference play.
Chris Sauve (SR/Mascouche, Quebec) guided the Lions from the mound in game one, hurling six innings and allowing only five hits and one run while walking one and striking out four. Sauve leads Bryan in wins with five. Chad Burrows (SR/Nassau, Bahamas), who has been absolutely solid for the Lions with four wins this season and an ERA of 0.69, picked up his sixth save to tie him for the No. 2 spot in the NAIA for most saves.
Truett-McConnell broke the silence after two innings with the first run of the game and their only run in the bottom of the third. The Bears began their at-bat with a free base off a hit by pitch, and the runner advanced to second following a sacrifice bunt. The next batter delivered an RBI single down the right field line for a 1-0 lead.
All of Bryan's offense came in the top of the sixth frame when Wade Weinburger (FR/James Cistern, Bahamas) led off with a single through the right side and was trailed by Justin Morhardt (JR/Winsted, Conn.)'s single. Prentice Young (SR/Oak Ridge, Tenn.) took over for Morhardt at first as a courtesy runner, using his speed on the next play to take second when Lake Burris (SO/Chatsworth, Ga.) laid down a sac-bunt. Weinburger, Bryan's run leader, moved to scoring position at third. Trevor Behrent (JR/Catawissa, Pa.) was up next and registered a key single to left field that plated both Weinburger and Young to take over 2-1. Fernando Garcia (JR/Kissimmee, Fla.) connected for the only extra-base hit of the Lions with a double down the left field line, scoring Behrent for the last run of the game for a 3-1 final.
Burrows allowed only one hit in the seventh and recorded the last three outs via strikeouts. Morhardt was the lone Lion to tally more than one hit, finishing 2-of-3. Behrent led the team with two runs batted in, was walked once, and went 1-of-2. Garcia had one RBI with a double, and Weinburger had the only other hit along with scoring one run. Truett-McConnell outhit Bryan 6-5 but recorded one more error, 2-1.
All it took were two hits by Bryan to get on the board first in game two. As the top of the second inning got underway, Burris singled to center and Behrent doubled to right center to provide the Lions with a 1-0 advantage.
Bryan created even more separation in the third when Weinburger smashed a solo shot over the fence in left center. The Lions weren't done with the rally as Morhardt singled through the right side and Young took over base running duties. Young timed it right and stole second before continuing his way home from a Garcia double for a 3-0 lead.
It was all Alec Turner (JR/Carlisle, OH) in the top of the fourth to push Bryan out in front 4-0 when he walked to leadoff their at-bat, stole second, took third on Mikey Rita (JR/Kalaheo, HI)'s sac-bunt, and then crossed home on a fielder's choice hit by Kila Zuttermeister (JR/Kailua, HI). The Bears singled in the bottom of the frame and got a free pass after being hit by a pitch, which set up their first two runs of the game as they ripped a triple down the right field line to slim the margin 4-2.
The most significant blow by Bryan was in the fifth when they pieced together five runs. Behrent started the inning off with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error. CJ Owens (SR/Oakland, Calif.) put Behrent at third when he made contact and directed the ball down the left side. Owens applied the pressure with a stolen bag, putting runners on second and third with two outs. Rita was patient at the plate and waited as four balls were thrown, which loaded the bases. Zuttermeister brought in the first two runs with a single shot through the left side. The Bears fell victim to Weinburger early on, but they made the mistake by giving him a pitch he liked. Weinburger came around and with a crack of the bat he crushed a three-run bomb for his second homerun of the day to give the Lions a comfortable 9-2 edge.
The deficit fell to six runs when Truett-McConnell scored one run off one hit and two errors in the bottom of the fifth inning, 9-3.
A walk, single, and homer pulled the Bears within three runs of the Lions in the bottom of the sixth, 9-6. Zane Glass (JR/Murfreesboro, Tenn.) relieved starter Brandon Marklund (JR/North Vancouver, Canada) to pick up the last out before Truett-McConnell could do any more damage.
Bryan tacked on an insurance run in the seventh inning when Rita was hit by a pitch, went to second and then third on two walks, and reached home on a throwing error to collect the 10-6 win and 2-0 lead in the series.
Marklund lasted 5.2 innings and had eight hits and six runs posted against him. He walked three and struck out four before handing the reigns over to Glass for the final out in the sixth. Burrows closed out the final inning with a clean slate. Marklund is now 3-2 this season with back-to-back wins in conference matchups.
Morhardt and Behrent combined for six of the Lion's 13 hits, each producing three apiece. They each had one double, respectively. Weinburger had a phenomenal outing with a team-high four RBIs on two hits, which were both homeruns. Zuttermeister ended with three runs batted in, one hit, one walk, and one run scored. Garcia doubled on his lone hit for an RBI. Owens, Turner, and Burris each chipped in one hit apiece. The Bears finished with eight hits.
Bryan and Truett-McConnell wrap up the series on Saturday in a single nine-inning game, which is slated to start at 1pm.
For a complete look at the Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.