Lee Baseball Wins 8-7 Over North Alabama

Sunday, March 4, 2018
Tyler Payne drove in four runs with a pair of doubles and a safety-squeeze bunt, while Dalton Ney had a pair of singles and a two-base knock in helping Lee post a hard-earned 8-7 victory over North Alabama on Sunday afternoon at Olympic Field.

The win allowed the Flames to capture the final game of a three-game GSC series against the Lions. It came after a 16-inning marathon loss to North Alabama on Saturday evening and evened Lee’s conference record at 3-3 while the Lions slipped to 4-2.

“I’m proud of the way our team battled back after the marathon game on Saturday,” stated Lee head coach Mark Brew in posting what he called a must win. “North Alabama has a solid team but our guys hung tough and found a way to win. It certainly wasn’t easy. Tyler (Payne) had an outstanding game and has played well all year for us.”

The Lions jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning but the Flames came right back to tie the game on Jordan Howard’s third homer of the season. The contest remained deadlocked at one until North Alabama put together four singles in the fifth inning and regained the lead at 3-1.

The Flames tied the battle in the bottom of the fifth when Spencer Mossburg walked, Ney singled, Fernando Ortiz put down a sacrifice bunt and Payne looped a two-RBI double down the left-field line. 

The Lions bounced right back and claimed a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth. The margin grew to 5-3 in the seventh when Kyle Hubbuch drilled a long solo-homer over the right-centerfield wall.

The Flames sent eight batters to the dish in the seventh inning and the suspense grew as two runs crossed the plate to even the score at five. Ney started the rally with a double. Ortiz walked and Payne ripped a double, scoring Ney. Miguel Pimentel did his part with a RBI base knock.

The rally continued in the eighth when the Flames scored three big runs. With one out, Mossburg was hit by a pitch and Ney collected his third hit of the day. Ortiz stroked a single to score Mossburg and Payne put down a perfectly executed safety-squeeze to push Ney home. Howard reached first on an error but the alert Ortiz scored all the way from second on the play. 

The Lions made things interesting in the ninth as Ben Cooley walked and Hubbuch drilled his second homer of the day to right and cut the lead to 8-7. Relief hurler Joe Parete recorded three straight outs to retire North Alabama and claim his second save of the year.

“I’m just glad there was only one runner on base when Hubbuch homered,” said Brew. “He’s the best hitter on the North Alabama squad. Our pitching allowed us to hang in and get the win. Jumpei (Akanuma) didn’t have his best stuff today and John Reese (Gilmer) came back after pitching on Saturday.”

Akanuma hurled seven innings and allowed 10 hits and five earned runs. He struck out seven, walked one and hit a batter. Gilmer came on for one inning and allowed one hit and no runs. Parete, who also worked on Saturday, pitched the ninth allowing one hit and a pair of earned runs. He struck out one and walked one.

Shane Priest was the North Alabama starter. He hurled 6.1 innings and gave up five earned runs while striking out four and walking four. Channing Wall was charged with the loss. In 1.2 innings, he surrendered three hits and two earned runs.

Overall, the Flames are 7-11 and will host a non-conference opponent in Bellarmine on Tuesday and Wednesday in a pair of nine-inning games. North Alabama slips to 11-6 overall.

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