Kingsport, Tenn. – The Bryan College Lions Baseball Team got back into their groove Thursday morning in the first game of day two at the 2017 Appalachian Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament held at Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport, Tenn. Action began with the Lions and the Buffaloes of Milligan College (Tenn.) facing off in an elimination game, since No. 3 seed Bryan was handed a frustrating loss to No. 6 seed Truett McConnell University (Ga.) on the opening day of tournament play. No. 7 seed Milligan dropped to the loser's bracket after falling to 2nd seeded Point University (Ga.) on Wednesday, May 3. The Buffs weren't going down without a fight and managed to outhit the Lions 19-17 and lock in 11 runs, which would normally be enough to seal a comfortable win. Milligan wasn't prepared though to stop the offensive force of Bryan as the Lions dealt a five-run blow in the top of the first, produced four runs in the fourth, copied the previous with another four runs in the seventh, and tallied a trey of insurance runs in the eighth for a 16-11 victory.
Included in Bryan's 36-17 overall record this season are 18 outings where the Lions have reached double-digit runs. The homerun heavy team didn't swat one against Milligan, but they did register four doubles and were led Trevor Behrent (JR/Catawissa, Pa.) and Tyler Scott (FR/Calgary, Alberta) with four hits apiece. AAC Freshman of the Year, Wade Weinburger (FR/James Cistern, Bahamas), got in on the action going 3-of-5 with two runs scored, one double, and one run batted in. Behrent led all players in the RBI column with four and matched Scott for a team-high three runs scored. Both Behrent and Scott doubled, while Brookes Jones (SR/Franklin,Tenn.) provided three RBI's with a double. Fernando Garcia (JR/Kissimmee, Fla.) collected three RBI's, two runs scored, led all players with a pair of stolen bases, and went 2-of-4. The only other Lion to assist with a multi-hit performance was AAC Player of the Year, Justin Morhardt (JR/Winsted, Conn.), who notched two hits in six at-bats. Kila Zuttermeister (JR/Kailua, HI) had a lone hit with one run scored and one RBI. Prentice Young (SR/Oak Ridge, Tenn.) capitalized on his base-running duties and used his speed to cash in two runs, while Lake Burris (SO/Chatsworth, Ga.), Hudson Clare (SR/Jacksonville, Fla.), and Mikey Rita (JR/Kalaheo, HI) added one run, respectively. Burris also helped with one RBI.
Zane Glass (JR/Murfreesboro, Tenn.) got the win for Bryan after entering in the bottom of the sixth to shut down Milligan's momentum for the last out of the inning and tossing through the first out of the seventh before handing the reigns over to reliever, Miguel Lopez (JR/Yaucco, Puerto Rico). After Lopez was Travis Moore (SR/Hastings, Mich.) who closed the game for the Lions in the last two innings and had three hits, one walk, and one strikeout to show for it. Brandon Marklund (JR/North Vancouver, Canada) started for Bryan and hurled just the first frame after scattering seven hits and giving up four runs. Sam Salyers (JR/Kingsport, Tenn.) was behind the steering wheel for 4.2 innings after Marklund and surrendered seven hits, five runs with only one earned, and struck out one Buffalo.
The tone was set in the top of the first and commenced by Morhardt's leadoff single up the middle. Young, who entered as a courtesy runner for Morhardt, advanced to second when Weinburger laid down a sacrifice bunt and was putout at first. Behrent followed with a single down the left field line, which set up Young in scoring position at third. With only one out, Milligan walked Burris to load the bases. The pressure proved too much for the Buffaloes as they gave the Lions their first run off a hit by pitch that scored Young from third. It was Garcia who wore the pitch for Bryan. Zuttermeister was up next and drove a single up the middle to score Behrent, shift Burris to third, and move Garcia to second. With quick runners on, all it took was Jones to send a ball to deep right-center for all three Lions to reach home and put Bryan on top 5-0.
Five hits and an error in the bottom of the first allowed Milligan to chalk up three runs, and they were able to string together a leadoff single and a double in the bottom of the second to cut the deficit to 5-4. After two quite innings from Bryan, they continued to deal their damage in the style of big innings. As the top of the fourth got underway, it was apparent that the Lions were working on another game changer. Scott led off with a single thru the hole at shortstop, advanced to second off Morhardt's single to right, and knocked on the door for another run when he reached second because of Weinburger's successful bunt. With bases loaded, Behrent crushed a single to center to score Scott. The focus was blurred once again for the Buffaloes as the Lions strolled to another run due to a wild pitch. Young scored, and Weinburger filled in at third. Even though Bryan's homerun king couldn't send the ball over the fence, the contact was enough by Burris for a sac-fly that led to Weinburger crossing home plate. The final run came when Garcia connected for a RBI single, which scored Behrent and grew the difference to 9-4.
Milligan was able to counter in the bottom of the fourth with a lone run, the bottom of the sixth with four runs, and squeezed out another two in the seventh, but Bryan answered with seven runs over the seventh and eighth innings to erase all hope of the Buffaloes.
It was tied up 9-9 entering the seventh, and the Lions knew that one more significant inning was all that they needed to put enough space between them and the Buffs. Milligan chose to make a pitching change, but Bryan quickly began to rattle the fresh arm on the mound as Scott singled to lead things off for the Lions. Scott was able to steal second, which set up Behrent with a RBI as he doubled to deep right. Clare entered for Burris as a pinch hitter and ended up reaching base on a wild throw. The same play advanced Behrent to third before Garcia sent him home with a single to left-center. In need of only one out, another switch was made on the mound, but an unfortunate series of events unfolded for the Buffaloes. Clare took off and managed to steal home as Garcia took off for second. Garcia collected himself and took advantage of a free trip to third and then home due to a wild throw. The episode allowed Bryan a 13-9 lead, which would be enough to get the win since Milligan produced only two more runs in the bottom of the frame. The dagger came when the Lions tacked on three more runs in the top of the eighth. Rita was walked, Scott singled to center, and Weinburger doubled to deep left-center. Rita scored on Weinburger's connection for the first run of the frame. Behrent kept stacking on hits with another sent to left, which brought in Scott and Weinburger for the scores, bringing the final to 16-11.
Up next for the Lions are the Point University Skyhawks, who fell to Truett McConnell University Thursday 9-1. Bryan and Point begin tournament play on Friday, May 5 with a 9 am start time.
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Tournament Statistics and Live Stats - DakStats Page