Waleska, Ga. – The Bryan College Lions Baseball Team was on the road this weekend and met up with fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference opponent, Reinhardt University (Ga.), who is vying for a top-25 ranking in the NAIA, but the 19th ranked Lions proved too much as they took the series 2-1 and improved to 23-10 overall and 8-4 in conference play. The Eagles, who are receiving votes, dropped their overall record to 27-11 and AAC record to 7-5. 5th ranked Tennessee Wesleyan University continues to hold down the No. 1 spot in the AAC (23-10 overall, 10-2 in AAC), followed by Point University (Ga.) (19-12 overall, 9-3 in AAC), and then Bryan.
Bryan made a statement in the opening game of the series on Friday as the Lions throttled all three of Reinhardt's pitchers that went to the mound, scoring all 11 runs off six homeruns. Wade Weinburger (FR/James Cistern, Bahamas) and Lake Burris (SO/Chatsworth, Ga.) took turns going deep, but it was Trevor Behrent (JR/Catawissa, Pa.) and CJ Owens (SR/Oakland, Calif.) who went above and beyond with two homers apiece to lead Bryan in the game one 11-2 victory. Chris Sauve (SR/Mascouche, Quebec) now leads the team in wins as he hurled five innings and surrendered only one run and four hits while walking none and striking out three for his sixth W of the season. After relieving four innings, Zane Glass (JR/Murfreesboro, Tenn.) picked up his second save of the year when he gave up a mere four hits and one run with one walk and one strikeout.
Behrent led the team with three hits and three runs scored along with tallying three runs batted in. Weinburger and Owens were the only other Lions with a multi-hit game. Weinburger finished with two runs scored and two RBIs, and Owens led all players with four RBIs while also scoring two runs. Besides the six homeruns, the only other extra-base hit was a double notched by Justin Morhardt (JR/Winsted, Conn.). Burris' one hit gave way to a pair of RBIs. Tyler Scott (FR/Calgary, Alberta) had the only other hit for the Lions, and he also aided with one run scored.
It was a combination of Weinburger and Burris in the top of the first to put Bryan on the board first. After a groundout to begin their at-bat, Weinburger bunted and used his speed to reach first. His time on base was short when Burris came after and watched two balls called before knocking out the next pitch over the left field fence for a 2-0 advantage.
Bryan got Reinhardt to line out, ground out, and strikeout in the bottom of the first. It was all Owens in the second inning for the Lions when he grabbed the ball and copied Burris with a bomb over the fence in left field to extend Bryan's lead to 3-0. In the bottom of the frame, the Eagles soared their way to one run, which was the only run they could produce until the bottom of the ninth. A double to deep left trailed by a single thru the hole at short was all it took for Reinhardt to close the gap to 3-1.
After three quite innings, Bryan broke the silence in the top of the sixth. Morhardt was walked to begin the inning and relieved base running duties to courtesy runner Prentice Young (SR/Oak Ridge, Tenn.). Behrent singled to put two runners on with no outs. Fernando Garcia (JR/Kissimmee, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Young to scoring position at third and Behrent to second, but Owens cleared the bases with his second homerun of the game going back over the left field fence. After six innings, Bryan remained on top 6-1.
As the seventh inning unfolded, Bryan kept their foot on the gas despite starting their at-bat with two strikeouts. Morhardt remained poised and drove a double to deep left-center. The quickness of Young led to him taking over second base for Morhardt, but he was allowed to leisurely jog home when Behrent turned a full count into a two-run blast that went the distance, pulling the Lions even further ahead with a 8-1 edge.
Reinhardt looked like they may add to their one run in the game during the bottom of the eighth, but Bryan ended their hope as they left two on base. The Lions delivered a dagger in the top of the ninth when Scott singled and Weinburger brought him home with a two-run shot over the fence and Behrent locked in on a pitch on a 2-2 count for his second homerun of the game, ending the Lions with 11 total runs. Bases were loaded in the bottom of the frame following two singles and a walk, but the Eagles were able to scrounge up only one run off a fielder's choice as the Lions got the two final outs to end the game for an 11-1 final.
The Eagles stole their only game from the Lions in game two of the series to start play on Saturday. The duo of Reinhardt's pitchers Enrique Zamora and Connor Hawkins tamed the Lions through seven innings, preventing Bryan from any long shots and only one extra-base hit. The Lions outhit the Eagles 6-4, but Reinhardt capitalized off two homeruns to secure their lone win of the series.
Reinhardt got on base in the bottom of the first because of a bobbled ball by Bryan. It helped the next Eagle get an extra RBI when he delivered a two-run homerun over the right field fence on a 1-2 count to provide Reinhardt with their first lead of the weekend, 2-0.
Another run was tacked on by the Eagles when they launched a solo shot in the bottom of the second, jumping ahead 3-0.
It wasn't until the top of the fourth that the Lions were able to capitalize. Kila Zuttermeister (JR/Kailua, HI) reached on a walk to leadoff for Bryan. He took advantage of a wild pitch and passed ball to take scoring position at third before being plated by Weinburger for Bryan's first run of the game. Weinburger tripled to deep left-center to score Zuttermeister, decreasing the deficit to 3-1.
Reinhardt kept composure, rallied for three more runs in the bottom of the fourth, and never looked back. A walk, hit by pitch, and error by the Lions set up the Eagles with bases loaded and no outs. The first run came from another wild pitch as runners shifted to third and second on the play. A two-run single scored Reinhardt's final two runs for a 6-1 lead through four innings.
It was Zuttermeister who helped Bryan add one more run in the top of the sixth. He singled to shallow center to leadoff for the Lions. A wild pitch allowed him to advance to second, before a single by Weinburger let Zuttermeister travel to third and then home on a Reinhardt error during the play. The Eagles kept the Lions off the board in the seventh, as they held on for a 6-2 upset.
Weinburger finished with Bryan's only RBI, ending the game 2-of-3 with one triple that scored Zuttermeister, who scored both of the Lion's runs. Zuttermeister had one hit in the game, but it was Behrent who led in hits with a perfect 3-of-3 performance.
Brandon Marklund (JR/North Vancouver, Canada) was given his fourth loss of the season after four innings of work that showed four hits and six runs, three earned, while striking out four and a pair of walks. Travis Moore (SR/Hastings, Mich.) finished the last two innings for the Lions, allowing no hits or runs, walking one, and notching one K.
Chad Burrows (SR/Nassau, Bahamas) has been lights out for Bryan this season, and he didn't disappoint in the rubber match, seeing the most innings in a single game this season. Burrows, who is now 5-0 with seven saves, tossed six innings and surrendered only two hits, four walks, and recorded nine strikeouts. Landon Mosteller (SO/Clarksville, Tenn.) closed the final inning with a clean slate.
The Lions exploded for 14 hits and nine runs, all scored in each of the first five innings. One run was added each inning, besides the top of the third when Bryan overwhelmed Reinhardt for five runs. Weinburger ended with two doubles and a triple on a team-best three hits and two runs scored. Burris had Bryan's lone homerun in the series finale, ending with two hits and one double in four at-bats and two RBIs. Scott doubled in the contest and was a perfect 2-of-2 with two runs batted in. Garcia led all players with three RBIs on his triple and connected on 2-of-4 with two runs scored. Owens went 2-of-4 with one run scored, and Behrent also had two hits along with two runs scored. Morhardt was 1-of-4 with one RBI, and the only other RBI came from Jacob Justice (FR/Ringgold, Ga).
Bryan's run in the first inning came when Weinburger doubled down the left field line and then scored off Morhardt' single to left-center for a 1-0 lead.
Behrent singled to left-center to leadoff the Lions in the second inning. Owens trailed with a single to shallow center, advancing Behrent to second on the batted ball. Scott plated Behrent when he doubled deep down the right field line, helping the Lions to a 2-0 advantage.
Weinburger went the opposite way this time around as the top of the third inning got underway. After four fouls, he made contact and smoked the ball down the right field line for a triple. Burris was up next and let two strikes pass before doubling down the right field line, which scored Weinburger as the Lions continued with no outs. Burris was tagged out on the next play when Morhardt reached first on a fielder's choice. Morhardt took over second when Behrent singled, and the bases loaded with one out as Owens sent a shot to shallow center. Garcia watched as the first pitch was called strike, but the second one was what he wanted as he came around and sailed the ball to deep center for the three-run triple. Justice batted seventh in the inning and grounded out to first, but it was good enough to score Garcia from third to end the five run rally in the frame.
Burris provided all the offense in the fourth when he homered over the fence on a 2-0 count, increasing the margin to a comfortable 8-0 difference.
Garcia kept the momentum going in the top of the fifth when he singled to shallow center. A passed ball while Justice was up to bat allowed him to take second. Scott sent the first pitch to left-center, which scored Garcia for the last run of the game. The 9-0 win for the Lions gave them the edge in the series 2-1.
Up next for Bryan is a significant three-game conference series at Point University (Ga.) on Friday and Saturday, Mar. 31 and Apr. 1. The meeting will allow the Lions to take over the No. 2 spot in the AAC. The game on Friday is set for 5pm, and the first pitch on Saturday is slated for 12pm.
For a complete look at the Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.