Dayton, Tenn. – After blasting the Union College Bulldogs 16-5 in the opening game of the three-game series on Friday, the 20th ranked Bryan College Lions Baseball Team looked to make quick work of their fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference opponent on Saturday, but the orange and black team rallied for three late runs in the sixth inning of game two to pull off the upset with a 7-4 final. The Lions stayed strong mentally, despite falling behind 6-1 as the finale got underway. Three runs tallied in both the third and fourth innings, along with a pair in the sixth, helped Bryan steal the last game in come-from-behind fashion 9-6 and take the series 2-1. The Lions improved their overall record to 27-13 and conference record to 11-7, while the Bulldogs fell to 23-16 overall and 10-8 in AAC action. No. 6 Tennessee Wesleyan University continues to hold onto the top spot in conference standings at 29-12 overall and 15-3 in the AAC, while Point falls in at second with an overall record of 24-15 and conference record of 14-4.
Bryan was the first to get on the board as play started on Saturday. In the bottom of the second inning, Fernando Garcia (JR/Kissimmee, Fla.) was hit by a pitch and then plated for the score as Tyler Scott (FR/Calgary, Alberta) tripled, giving the Lions an early 1-0 advantage.
Union countered in the top of the third and began on a strong note with back-to-back doubles to start their at-bat, which leveled the score 1-1. A groundout allowed a runner to take scoring position at third before capitalizing for a run on a wild pitch to take the lead 2-1.
Each side continued swapping blows as the Lions took their turn in the bottom of the frame. Wade Weinburger (FR/James Cistern, Bahamas) led off with a walk, but Justin Morhardt (JR/Winsted, Conn.) hit into a double play. The momentum wasn't slowed down though, as Trevor Behrent (JR/Catawissa, Pa.) came back with a single before Lake Burris (SO/Chatsworth, Ga.) cleared the bases with a two-run homer over the Senter Field fence on a 3-1 count as Bryan regained the lead 3-2.
The Bulldogs responded in the top of the fourth when a walk and double put runners on first and third with one out. A groundout got the second out, but the Lions couldn't retire Union in time a pair of singles followed to add two more to their score, putting the Bulldogs back in front with a 4-3 edge.
It was Garcia in the bottom of the inning who helped tie the score 4-4 when he doubled to leadoff for the Lions, advanced to third when Jacob Justice (FR/Ringgold, Ga) grounded out, and then crossed home plate when Scott lofted a sac-fly.
After a quite fifth inning, the game changer came for Union in the top of the sixth when three runs were scored to seal the game. A Bulldog was hit by a pitch and then advanced to second on a stolen base. A walk followed to put runners on first and second with one out. Union brought in one run with a single, and an error on the play by Bryan allowed a Bulldog to take scoring position at third. The next two runs came off a single before Miguel Lopez (JR/Yaucco, Puerto Rico) relieved Zane Glass (JR/Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and struck out a batter and got another to ground out before any more damage was done.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Lions ended up leaving two runners on base as the Bulldogs fended off their lead and claimed the 7-4 victory.
Glass got the loss after relieving starting pitcher, Travis Moore (SR/Hastings, Mich.), through 1.2 innings with two hits and three runs allowed while walking two and striking out three. Moore lasted 3.2 innings and surrendered six hits, four runs, walked three, and collected five K's. Lopez had a clean sheet with three strikeouts over a span of 1.2 innings.
Union outhit Bryan 8-5, and two of the Lion's hits were recorded by Scott who finished a perfect 2-of-2 with a triple and two runs batted in. Burris had the other two RBI's on his two-run bomb, ending the game 1-of-3. The only other extra-base hit came off Garcia's bat, as he was 1-of-2 with a team-high two runs scored and one double. Behrent went 1-of-2 with one run scored.
Bryan went to their standout pitcher for the last game of the series, Chad Burrows (SR/Nassau, Bahamas). Burrows has been lights out for the Lions, entering Saturday's contest without a loss. Despite allowing five innings in the first and one more in the second, Bryan kept him on the mound and their faith in him paid off as he silenced Union for the last five innings en route to his team-leading seventh win of the season.
Two singles, a successful bunt, a double, and a three-run homerun by the Bulldogs provided them a comfortable 5-0 lead right out of the gate. The Lions remained poised and managed one run in the bottom of the first inning when Behrent doubled, a wild pitch advanced him to scoring position at third, and a single by Burris scored Behrent to cut the deficit to 5-1.
A single, stolen bag, and two errors allowed Union to extend the lead back to five runs with a 6-1 advantage after two innings of play.
The momentum swing came in the bottom of the third for Bryan when Behrent led off with a walk and was quickly brought home as Burris turned a 2-2 count into a two-run jack, slimming the margin to 6-3. After a fly out by Brookes Jones (SR/Franklin,Tenn.), Garcia took his turn going deep with a solo shot over the fence, closing the gap to 6-4.
One swing of the bat helped the Lions overcome and take control of the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Mikey Rita (JR/Kalaheo, HI) laid down and a bunt and reached first on the base hit. Weinburger grounded out, allowing Rita to advance to second. Morhardt stepped up to bat and showed patience, as he took first on a walk. With runners on first and second, Behrent watched as two balls were called during his at-bat. The third was the charm as he swung and launched the ball back, back, and over the fence to add three runs to Bryan's score, providing them with their first lead of the game at 7-6.
As Burrows continued to shut down Union, Bryan added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, and it was Behrent once again! Morhardt singled and was relieved of base-running duties by Prentice Young (SR/Oak Ridge, Tenn.). The speed wasn't needed though, as Behrent crushed his second homerun of the game to collect his team-high five RBI's in the contest. The Lions held on to their 9-6 lead as Burrows got the Bulldogs to ground out, fly out, and strike out looking for the last three outs of the game.
Burrows finished with seven innings thrown, eight hits allowed, six runs given up with one being unearned, three walks, and nine strikeouts. Behrent was 3-of-3 with a team-high five RBI's, four runs scored, one double, and two homeruns. Burris helped by going 2-of-4 with one homer, three runs batted in, and one run scored. Garcia caused problems for Union, ending 3-of-4 with one run scored, one RBI, one double, and one homerun. Jones pieced together a multi-hit performance, swatting 2-of-4 with one double. Morhardt and Rita had one hit apiece, while Rita also tallied one run scored. Young came home twice to score two of the Lion's runs.
Bryan begins a road-stretch with a visit to Georgetown College (Ky.), who is receiving votes in the top-25 poll, on Tuesday, Apr. 11, with game time slated for 2pm. They follow the trip with a meeting at AAC school, Milligan College (Tenn.), over the weekend, Apr. 14-15.
For a complete look at the Bryan Lions Baseball schedule, click here.