West Point, Ga. – After dropping game one of the three game series 5-4 on Friday, Mar. 31, the No. 19 team in the nation, the Bryan College Lions Baseball Team, returned to the diamond the next day for Saturday's doubleheader against the second best team in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, Point University. The Skyhawks gave up only one run and five hits to the Lions as Point took the series with a game two final of 7-1, before Bryan exploded for 15 hits and 17 runs in an overwhelming 17-1 victory in the series finale to avoid being swept.
It wasn't until the bottom of the fourth inning that the Skyhawks broke the silence in game two and got on the board first. Point delivered a solo shot to deep left on a 2-1 count to take a 1-0 lead.
The rest of Point's offense occurred in the bottom of the sixth when a double ripped to left-center scored runners from second and third. A fly out put another runner in scoring position at third before a single to center plated another run. A stolen base gave one runner enough room to make it home on the next play when a Skyhawk connected on a single to left-center. Travis Moore (SR/Hastings, Mich.)'s second wild pitch of the frame advanced runners to third and second. Point took advantage and brought in two more runs to end the rally off a single to right, providing the Skyhawks with a comfortable 7-0 edge over Bryan.
It was CJ Owens (SR/Oakland, Calif.) who helped the Lions prevent being blanked when he crushed his 13th homerun of the season to deep left for a 7-1 final.
Bryan's starter, Chris Sauve (SR/Mascouche, Quebec), dropped his record to 6-3 after picking up the loss when he tossed four innings, allowing just two hits and one run while walking one and striking out four. Moore followed, scattering five hits over two innings and surrendering six runs.
Kila Zuttermeister (JR/Kailua, HI), Justin Morhardt (JR/Winsted, Conn.), Trevor Behrent (JR/Catawissa, Pa.), Owens, and Mikey Rita (JR/Kalaheo, HI) each had one hit apiece in the contest. Owens scored the only run on his solo bomb, and Behrent tallied the only other extra-base hit for Bryan with a double.
There was no messing around in the last game when the Lions ended all hope of the Skyhawks after just two innings.
Zuttermeister led off with a single and then took second and third off back-to-back wild pitches. Wade Weinburger (FR/James Cistern, Bahamas) scored Zuttermeister with a triple smoked to right-center. Morhardt hit and saw how Bryan had shaken Point when a misplayed grounder allowed him to reach first and Weinburger to score. Prentice Young (SR/Oak Ridge, Tenn.) entered as a courtesy runner for Morhardt and took scoring position at third when Behrent drove a single to right. Behrent filled in at second on a stolen base. Owens made contact for a sacrifice fly to center, which plated Young from third. The final run of the inning came when Fernando Garcia (JR/Kissimmee, Fla.) singled to right, scoring Behrent for a 4-0 advantage.
Point was able to answer with one run in the bottom of the first, but it wouldn't matter as the Lions made a statement in the top of the second. Rita began with reaching base on a walk. He then advanced to second on a stolen bag. Zuttermeister grounded out to short, but it was good enough to allow Rita to make it to third. The second out came when Weinburger grounded out, but Rita sprinted home for the score. With two outs and no runners on, the Skyhawks looked to dodge any blows that Bryan might make but that wouldn't be the case. Morhardt watched the count build to 3-1 before taking a pass to first on a walk. Young took over base running duties and then stole second, but he would get to take a stroll around third and home when Behrent hit a two-run jack to deep right, extending the Lion's lead to 7-1. Point made a pitching change in hopes to easily notch the last out, but the momentum had grown too large for Bryan. Lake Burris (SO/Chatsworth, Ga.) took the first pitch thrown his way and sent it to left-center for a double. Burris took scoring threatened the Skyhawks with another score when he advanced to third on Owens' single to left. Garcia hit into a grounder that Point anticipated would earn the final out, but it was misplayed. Garcia reached first, Burris scored, and Owens advanced to second on the play. A passed ball sent the Lions knocking on the door for another run when Owens took third and Garcia slid over to second. Tyler Scott (FR/Calgary, Alberta) watched a ball called and then lined a single to right center, scoring both Owens and Garcia. The order came around again when Rita stepped up the plate and took a hit from a pitch and Scott moved to second. The Skyhawks went to another pitcher, hoping that he could get Point out the situation. After his first pitch, the catcher was tossing the ball back to the mound but the throw was wild and allowed Scott to take third and Rita advance to second. The state worsened for Point when a wild pitch tacked on another run for Bryan and got Rita to scoring position at third. Zuttermeister was walked, and the next batter was Weinburger. Weinburger worked his way to a full count before the pitcher was rattled, throwing another wild pitch for Rita to score and Zuttermeister to take second. Weinburger took advantage of the pitcher when the next pitch was just what he wanted. He brought the bat around connected for a two-run homerun to deep right on a full count, ending the Lion's 10 runs in the inning.
Bryan owned a 14-1 advantage over Point, but the Lions weren't going to lift their foot off the gas when they added insurance runs in the third, fifth, and seventh innings.
In the top of the third, Burris doubled to right-center and then scored when Owens trailed with a double down the left field line.
Owens was hit by a pitch to start things off for the Lions in the top of the fifth. Jacob Justice (FR/Ringgold, Ga) entered as a pinch runner, and Tucker Cain (SO/Jacksboro, Tenn.) came in to pinch hit for Garcia. Cain reached on a walk, putting runners on first and second with one out. Another wild pitch by Point allowed Justice to third and Cain to second. Scott stepped up to bat and saw one strike followed by four balls to get the walk, which loaded the bases. Rita was hit by a pitch on the first one thrown his way, which scored Justice to put the Lions on top 16-1. A double play performed by the Skyhawks prevented any more runs from being scored by Bryan.
In the top of the seventh, Justice led off with a double to right-center, and Cain followed with a single up the middle. With runners on first and third with no outs, Dannon Grubb was hit by a pitch that loaded the bases. The Lions got their second free run of the day when Rita was walked, scoring Justice from third. The Skyhawks got two strikeouts and Bryan to pop out shallow before the deficit grew more.
Bryan cruised to a 17-1 final, improving their overall record to 24-12 and AAC record to 9-6, while dropping Point to 21-13 overall and 11-4 in conference play.
Chad Burrows (SR/Nassau, Bahamas) got the start for the Lions and scattered four hits and allowed one run through four innings of work. He is now 6-0 with seven saves and a 1.27 ERA. Sam Salyers (JR/Kingsport, Tenn.), Austin Parrish (JR/Ringgold, Ga), and Miguel Lopez (JR/Yaucco, Puerto Rico) each hurled one inning of relief to close the game.
Weinburger and Behrent ended with two hits and homerun apiece. Weinburger scored two runs and led all players with four runs batted in. Burris doubled twice on both of his hits in the contest and scored two runs. Owens was 2-of-2 with a double and two RBIs, and Justice had Bryan's other extra-base hit when he doubled and ended with two runs scored. Scott and Rita finished with two RBIs, respectively, while Scott aided with one run scored and Rita cross home plate twice. Zuttermeister scored two runs for the Lions and had one hit. Morhardt had one run batted in on his lone hit. Young produced two runs scored for Bryan, while Garcia had one run scored, one hit, and one RBI. Cain and Brookes Jones (SR/Franklin,Tenn.) had one hit apiece in the outing.
The Lions have a busy week ahead when they host No. 6 Georgia Gwinnett College on Tuesday, Apr. 4, in one nine-inning game slated for 6pm. Bryan then plays host to conference foe, Union College (Ky.) on Friday and Saturday, Apr. 7-8, with Friday's single game at 6pm, and Saturday's twinbill scheduled to start at 1pm.
For a complete look at the Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.