West Point, Ga. – Bryan College outhit the home team, Point University (Ga.), 10-8 and took the first lead with two runs in the first and added two more in the fifth, which was good enough to control a 4-2 lead through six innings, but two runs tied the game in the bottom of the seventh. The Skyhawks were able to capitalize for one run in the eighth to complete the comeback and steal game one of the three-game series from the Lions with a 5-4 final. After sweeping fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference opponent, Milligan College (Tenn.), last week, the win Friday evening against Bryan moves Point's win-streak to four, overall record to 20-12, and conference record to 10-3. The Lions still possess an impressive 23-11 overall record while dropping to 8-5 in AAC play.
It seemed as if Bryan would have a slow start following two back-to-back outs to begin their at-bat in the top of the first inning, but a single to center by Lake Burris (SO/Chatsworth, Ga.) and Justin Morhardt (JR/Winsted, Conn.) showing patience leading to a walk helped spark some life into the Lions. The agile Prentice Young (SR/Oak Ridge, Tenn.) entered as courtesy runner for Morhardt before advancing to second and Burris to third when Trevor Behrent (JR/Catawissa, Pa.) connected for a single to left. With bases loaded, CJ Owens (SR/Oakland, Calif.) delivered with a two-run single, plating Burris and Young to put Bryan out in front 2-0.
It wasn't until the bottom of the third frame that Point broke the silence when Bryce Jay reached on a walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, and then crossed third and went home on a wild pitch by Brandon Marklund (JR/North Vancouver, Canada) that ended up near the Skyhawk's dugout.
The Lions extended their lead in the top of the fifth for their final runs of the contest. Kila Zuttermeister (JR/Kailua, HI) led off with a single to right and then traveled to second following Wade Weinburger (FR/James Cistern, Bahamas)'s walk. Point knew they were in trouble when Morhardt ripped a single thru the hole at shortstop to load the bases with only one out. Behrent stepped up to the plate and hit into a fielder's choice, but he beat the play at first and set up Zuttermeister to score for the Lions. Skyhawk, Nathan Greene, attempted to squeeze an out on the play, which Young was forced out at second, but a wild throw moved the score to 4-1 when Weinburger continued home.
Gehrig Vargas helped Point counter in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff single. On the next play, Jay watched the count grow to 3-1 before the next swing of the bat sent the ball to third. A clean release wasn't made on the play, giving way to Jay reaching first and Vargas taking scoring position at third. A single to center by Greene gave him an RBI when Vargas scored, cutting the deficit to 4-2.
A quite sixth inning passed as the Skyhawks turned up the pressure for the Lions in the seventh. A wild throw helped Jay score after he previously singled to leadoff their turn and advanced to second on a sac-bunt. Blake Lorow singled to shallow left, which put Greene at third. Zane Glass (JR/Murfreesboro, Tenn.) took over the reigns on the mound, relieving Ryan LaFever (FR/Baxter, Tenn.), but the first pitch got away and allowed Greene to score to level the game 4-4. Glass settled down and ended Point's rally, picking up the third out via three whizzing strikes.
It all came down to the bottom of the eighth, when the Skyhawks were walked, Devario Allen advanced to second on Vargas' sac-bunt, and then finished his trip around the bases when Jay drove a shot to left field for an RBI single. The run scored by Allen was enough for Point to fend off Bryan with and hold on for the victory.
With one out, Weinburger provided the Lions with an opportunity to stay in the game by doubling to deep left, but Bryan was unable to capitalize.
Glass was given the loss after tossing 1.2 innings and surrendering one hit, the game-winning run, one walk, and a pair of strikeouts. LaFever saw just one out in the seventh, but was blasted for two hits and two unearned runs. Marklund started and hurled his way through six innings, giving up five hits and two runs, one walk, and three strikeouts.
Zuttermeister tripled and Weinburger doubled for the Lion's only extra-base hits of the outing. Both players led the team in hits with two apiece, and each scored one run. Owens finished with one hit but had a team-high two RBIs, while Behrent had one hit with the team's only other run batted in. Burris, Morhardt, and Scott had a hit in the game, respectively, and Burris ended with one run scored along with Young.
Bryan looks to answer Point tomorrow, Saturday, Apr. 1, when the first pitch of game two is slated for 12pm with the series finale following.
For a complete look at the Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.