Lee’s baseball team wrapped up a long weekend against 5th-ranked Delta State University with a doubleheader split. The Flames remain in 6th-place in the Gulf South Conference standings (14-9) and 23-19 overall. The host Statesmen are now 30-7 overall, 18-4.
Lee won the opening contest 13-10 in 10 innings but the powerful Statesmen regrouped in the second affair and claimed an 11-5 victory. The Flames will return to Olympic Field for a three-game series against West Georgia. Military Appreciation Day will be celebrated on Saturday and a doubleheader will follow on Sunday.
“Delta State is a really tough environment to play and we will take the split,” remarked head coach Mark Brew after the extremely long day. “Our team has shown great fight and resiliency this year. It’s the final two-week stretch in the GSC and we have one more mid-week game at Tusculum on Tuesday. We have some more work to do to qualify for the GSC tournament, but I like how we are fighting.”
GAME 1 - Lee 13, Delta State 10
In a 10-inning contest that lasted four hours and 26 minutes and featured 23 runs, 35 hits and 30 runners left on base, the Flames battled the entire game and found a way to pull out the opener of an important GSC doubleheader.
Lee trailed 9-8 in the top of the ninth inning when Ryan Bemish stepped up and drilled his first homer of the season over the right-field wall to extend play. Back came the Statesmen in the bottom of the frame. Coach Brew elected to issue intentional walks to power hitters Zack Shannon and Clay Casey to load the bases. The bold move worked with pitcher Eric Freeman getting the final out and pushing the affair into extra innings.
In the 10th, Jordan Howard, who enjoyed a big game at the dish, walked and Miguel Pimentel singled. Peyton Meeker put down a sacrifice bunt that moved Howard and Pimentel to second and third. Spencer Mossburg was intentionally walked and Chase Gadau followed with maybe his biggest hit of the season when his one-base hit scored Howard and Pimentel. Fernando Ortiz put an exclamation mark on the big inning when his hit put the Flames up 13-9.
Delta State fought back in the bottom of the inning and tallied one run before freshman Logan Workman got Statesmen power hitter Shannon to roll into a fielder’s choice and end the long extra-inning affair.
Howard drilled home runs, his 9th and 10th of the year, in his first two trips to the plate and also doubled and finished with four RBI. Bemish recorded three hits and knocked in three runs. Gadau had a pair of hits, scored twice and posted two RBI. Tyler Payne singled twice and scored ahead of Howard’s four baggers.
Wes Albert started and pitched 3.2 innings. He allowed six hits and six earned runs. Jay Prior gave the Flames a solid 2.2 innings. He surrendered just one hit and an earned run. Eric Freeman (4-4) got credit for the win. He came on to battle the loaded Delta State hitting attack. In 3.1 innings, the right-hander gave up eight hits but just two earned runs. Freshman Logan Workman got the game’s final out and picked up his third save of the year. The Statesmen used four pitchers and Hunter Riggins was charged with the loss.
“I was really proud of our fight,” said Brew after coaching his club to the first-game win. “We overcame a lot of defensive mistakes and walks to get the win. We swung the bats well and we had some big swings late by Beamish and Gadau to get us the lead. Workman, Freeman, and Prior gave us some excellent bullpen work against a really good line up.”
GAME 2 – Delta State 11, Lee 5
The Statesmen jumped out to an 8-1 lead after three innings and the Flames could never catch up. Although they battled for a single run in the fourth and three more runs in the fifth, Delta State put the seven-inning contest away with three runs in the sixth.
“We fell behind early and played catch-up all game,” pointed out the Lee skipper. “It’s tough to do that against Delta State. We fought back in the middle innings, but couldn’t keep them contained late.”
Jumpei Akanuma (6-1) started and took the pitching loss. In 2.1 innings, he allowed five hits and six earned runs. Pat Morrow worked the next 2.1 frames and gave up four hits and two earned runs. John Reese Gilmer was called on for an inning and surrendered four hits and three earned runs. Lance Hamilton got the final out for the Flames.
Dalton Minton (6-1) was the Statesmen winning hurler. He pitched four innings and gave up six hits, two earned runs, striking out five Flames. Peyton White came on to pick up his fourth save. In three innings, he surrendered a pair of hits but fanned seven Lee hitters.
Lee had two hits, one run and a RBI from Mossburg. Ortiz had a pair of hits while Gadau and Dalton Ney drove in runs with hits. The Statesmen were led by Shannon, who blasted his 24th homerun. The All-American now has a whopping 73 RBI. He finished the day with three hits and three RBI. Nick Morgan added three knocks, two runs and three RBI.