Kingsport, Tenn. – Point University (Ga.) went under the radar during the regular-season and slid in at the last second to claim the title as Appalachian Athletic Conference Regular-Season Co-Champions with Tennessee Wesleyan University as they both went 20-7 in conference play, but the Skyhawk's time at the AAC Baseball Tournament in Kingsport, Tenn. came to an end Friday afternoon when the No. 3 seeded Bryan College Lions Team pulled off the upset with a 9-2 routing in the elimination game. The Lions are now set to play the No. 6 seed, Truett McConnell University, on Saturday, which will be especially challenging when looking at how the Bears downed Bryan in the opening day of the event, May 3, and made a 9-1 win look easy against Point on Thursday to go undefeated in tournament play thus far. The first pitch between Bryan and Truett is slated for 9 am to begin play on Saturday.
Point got the best of Bryan in their regular-season series, but the Lions took advantage of the rematch. Bryan has struggled to control other teams from stacking on runs, but the trio of Travis Moore (SR/Hastings, Mich.), Miguel Lopez (JR/Yaucco, Puerto Rico), and Tristan Legault (SO/Mascouche, Quebec) proved to be a winning combination on the mound. Moore picked up his third win of the season after tossing the first five innings and scattering five hits, allowing two runs with only one earned, walked three, and struck out three. Lopez relieved the sixth inning and kept the Skyhawks without a hit while walking and striking out two, respectively. The final three innings were managed by Legault who surrendered just one hit, one walk, and sat down two via K's.
Bryan outhit Point 11-6 and was led by Fernando Garcia (JR/Kissimmee, Fla.) and Brookes Jones (SR/Franklin,Tenn.) who were the only Lions to produce a multi-hit performance with two hits apiece. Garcia had one of Bryan's two extra-base hits as he doubled, led all players in runs batted in with three, and also scored one run. Jones made it into the RBI column with one. Trevor Behrent (JR/Catawissa, Pa.) aided the Lions with two RBI's and two runs scored after going 1-of-4 at the plate. Prentice Young (SR/Oak Ridge, Tenn.), pinch running expert, scored a team-high three runs and led the team with a pair of stolen bags. Justin Morhardt (JR/Winsted, Conn.), Wade Weinburger (FR/James Cistern, Bahamas), Hudson Clare (SR/Jacksonville, Fla.), Kila Zuttermeister (JR/Kailua, HI), Mikey Rita (JR/Kalaheo, HI), and Tyler Scott (FR/Calgary, Alberta) each tallied one hit. Zuttermeister chipped in one RBI, Rita scored two runs, and Scott had a RBI and the other double. Cameron Yoho (SR/Collierville, Tenn.) made his presence known by scoring one of Bryan's runs.
The Lions capitalized on a Skyhawk's error to take an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Morhardt reached base on a misplayed grounder, handed over base-running duties to Young who advanced to second on a stolen base, and was sent the rest of the way home off Behrent's RBI single driven to left field.
One error and four hits, including a leadoff homerun, helped Point respond and take control of the lead 2-1 after two innings. The pair of runs would be all the Skyhawks could collect as the Lions silenced Point while cruising ahead to two runs in the fifth, exploding in the sixth for another four, and then capping the game with two additional runs in the seventh.
Young took over as a courtesy runner in the fifth and stole another base before taking scoring position at third following Weinburger's groundout to second. Garcia came through with a single up the middle that scored Young to level the score 2-2. The go-ahead run happened when Behrent reached on a hit by pitch, advanced to second off Garcia's single, sprinted to third when Jones hit into a fielder's choice, and then was sent home when Zuttermeister singled to short.
The 3-2 lead was built onto when Rita scored off Behrent's fielder's choice in the top of the sixth frame. The rally continued for Bryan as Garcia drove in Young and Behrent by doubling down the left field line. Jones followed suit with a single down the left field line that scored Garcia, which extended the Lion's advantage to 7-2.
Scott doubled to deep left-center in the top of the seventh to plate Yoho who was pinch running for Clare after he singled thru the hole at shortstop. With Rita on third, the Skyhawks made a costly mistake with a wild pitch. Rita sprinted in for the last run of the game, helping Bryan to a 9-2 victory.
The Lions have improved their overall record to 37-17 entering the last day of the AAC Tournament. After their battle with Truett McConnell, Tennessee Wesleyan will face off with Union College (Ky.) at 12 pm.
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