Dayton, Tenn. – 13 homeruns in the regular-season was the best mark that any Lion had accomplished in Bryan College Baseball's program history set by Drew Friedrich in 2007 and again by Preston King in 2015, but the duo of Lake Burris (SO/Chatsworth, Ga.) and Wade Weinburger (FR/James Cistern, Bahamas) shattered the record and raised the bar to 18 and 17 homers, respectively, recorded in a single regular-season. Weinburger had a hot start to the year and carried it into mid-season before slowing down as the season came to a close. Burris impressed majority of the season, but it was the final stretch that he used to pass up other team leaders and launch eight bombs over a 14-game span to become the new record holder at 18 homeruns. The pop throughout the team was easily recognizable with two players breaking the record, CJ Owens (SR/Oakland, Calif.) matching the previous record with 13 homeruns, Trevor Behrent (JR/Catawissa, Pa.) falling just shy at 11, and Justin Morhardt (JR/Winsted, Conn.) notching double-digit long shots with 10. Bryan's 83 homeruns compiled and .584 team slugging percentage this year are 3rd best in the nation. Burris' homerun count is 10th best in the country.
Bryan sealed the 3rd spot in the Appalachian Athletic Conference after taking the middle game against fellow conference foe, Montreat College (N.C.) over the weekend with a 6-4 final. The Cavaliers were able to piece together two big innings in the series opener and took all hope away with a pair of runs late for the 10-7 victory. The Lions were outhit 10-8 as action got underway on Saturday, but Bryan used two runs in the bottom of the first that helped avoid the sweep with the second game win. The third and final game was all Montreat as they set the tone with four runs in the first frame before posting an 11-spot in the sixth to overwhelm Bryan 15-5 and take the series 2-1.
The Cavaliers surged ahead for four runs in the top of the first on Friday, but the Lions countered with five runs in the bottom of the frame. Bryan went ahead 6-4 with one run in the third. Brookes Jones (SR/Franklin,Tenn.) was walked, and Tyler Scott (FR/Calgary, Alberta) plated Jones with an RBI double.
A three-run blast by Montreat in the top of the fourth helped them regain an advantage, and one more run was tacked on for an 8-6 edge. Bryan made it a one-run difference in the bottom of the frame. Fernando Garcia (JR/Kissimmee, Fla.) reached first on a fielder's choice, stole second, and then rounded third and came home when Kila Zuttermeister (JR/Kailua, HI) delivered a single.
Both sides were silenced in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. The last runs of the game came in the top of the eighth on the Cavalier's second homerun of the contest. A walk put a runner on, and a two-run shot over the fence on a 2-2 count gave way to their 10-7 effort.
Ryan LaFever (FR/Baxter, Tenn.) was given the loss after relieving starting pitcher, Brandon Marklund (JR/North Vancouver, Canada), for 1.1 innings. Marklund scattered five hits and allowed four runs, two that were earned, walked four, and had one strikeout. LaFever allowed a pair of hits, four runs with three earned, and went without a walk or strikeout. Miguel Lopez (JR/Yaucco, Puerto Rico) closed the last 5.2 innings and gave up three hits, two runs, had a trio of walks, and sat down four via strikeout.
Garcia and Scott led the team with two hits apiece, while Scott doubled and matched Mikey Rita (JR/Kalaheo, HI) for a team-high two runs batted in. Garcia had Bryan's only stolen bag and tied Jones with two runs scored, respectively. Zuttermeister had the only other RBI after going 1-of-4 with one run scored. Burris and Behrent had one hit and one run scored each. Morhardt doubled for his lone hit of the game.
Morhardt had a leadoff single, and Burris hit his 17th homerun of the season to score both him and Prentice Young (SR/Oak Ridge, Tenn.), who entered as a courtesy runner for Morhardt. The 2-0 lead after one inning in game two would prove essential as Montreat countered with one run in the top of the second and three more in the third. Fortunately, Bryan was able to keep pace and answered in the second with one run and with three in the third.
The Lion's starting pitcher, Chad Burrows (SR/Nassau, Bahamas), has been lights out this season and kept his record perfect at 10-0 with seven saves as he settled in during the fourth and fifth innings before handing over duties to Sam Salyers (JR/Kingsport, Tenn.) who tossed two innings and allowed just one hit, no runs, one walk, and a pair of K's. Burrows ended with five innings on the mound, nine hits surrendered, four runs given up, two walks, and four strikeouts.
Singles by Zuttermeister, Jones, and Morhardt led to the score in the second inning. It was back-to-back doubles by Garcia and Zuttermeister in the bottom of the third that yielded the first run of their at-bat. Zuttermeister continued home on the last scoring play of the game when Jones knocked his second homerun of the season to hold on for a 6-4 win.
Morhardt, Zuttermeister, and Jones led the team with two hits apiece. Jones had a quality outing going 2-of-3 with one homer, one stolen base, two runs scored, and two RBI's. Zuttermeister doubled in the game and chipped in one run scored and one RBI. Morhardt also added one RBI. Burris had the other homerun of the game for the Lions and tied Jones for a team-leading two RBI's. Garcia scored one run and had one hit that traveled for a double.
Bryan had three hits travel over the fence in the final game, but Montreat had a pair of homers, held the Lions to seven hits, and totaled 16 hits of their own for a whopping 15-5 final. The mood was set in the top of the first when the Cavaliers claimed a 4-0 lead. The bases were loaded with two outs, but all it did was take Montreat to capitalize on one pitch they liked as it cleared the bases in grand slam fashion.
The 18th homerun of the season for Burris was Bryan's lone run scored to lead off the bottom of the second inning. The Lions broke the silence in the bottom of the fifth when Weinburger drove his 17th jack of the year on the first pitch he saw, closing the margin to 4-2 through five innings.
The top of the sixth is when Montreat ran away with the score, collecting 11 runs off 10 hits and two errors. It took four Lions on the mound to end the rally.
Trailing 15-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Hudson Clare (SR/Jacksonville, Fla.) plated Burris and Zuttermeister on a three-run homer that wrapped up the final scoring of the game as the Cavaliers prevailed 15-5.
Travis Moore (SR/Hastings, Mich.) was handed the loss after starting for Bryan and throwing four innings of five-hit and four-run ball, along with two walks and four strikeouts. Tristan Legault (SO/Mascouche, Quebec) followed with one inning tossed and surrendered two hits, two runs with just one earned, and one walk. Marklund entered in the sixth and before leaving the field, he gave up a pair of hits and two runs, which one was earned. Glass was also worn down for two hits that led to three runs being scored by Montreat with two being earned. Landon Mosteller (SO/Clarksville, Tenn.) was able to get two outs, but he was unable to get the last out and offered up three hits and four runs. Salyers allowed one hit but got the last out of the inning, and he left the mound and turned it over to Jones who hurled the final frame with only one hit allowed to show for it.
Zuttermeister doubled in his 2-of-3 performance at the plate, which led the team in hits, and he also scored one run. Clare had a team-high three RBI's on his one hit that came in the form of a homerun. Weinburger and Burris tallied one RBI apiece off their solo shots in the contest, while Burris led in the runs scored column with two. Scott and Burrows also made the hit's list with one each.
After the three-game series, Bryan moved their overall record to 35-16 and conference record to 17-10, while Montreat improved to 19-30 overall and 7-20 in AAC play.
Up next for the Lions is the 2017 AAC Baseball Tournament, which is slated for May 3-6 at Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport, Tenn. Play begins Wednesday with No. 4 seed Reinhardt taking on No. 5 seed Union at 9 a.m. with No. 3 seed Bryan facing No. 6 seed Truett McConnell at 12 p.m. No. 2 seed Point plays No. 7 seed Milligan at 4 p.m., and top-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan will close out the day against No. 8 seed Bluefield at 7 p.m. The championship game is slated for Saturday.
For a complete look at the bracket and for more information on the tournament, visit the tournament page.
The AAC receives two automatic berths to the NAIA National Championship Tournament with the bids going to the tournament champion and the tournament runner-up.