After sweeping two on Friday, the No. 3 ranked Lee University baseball team split a pair of games on the second day of the Tennessee Valley Invitational at Olympic Field Saturday.
The Flames (7-1) tasted defeat for the first time in the 2013 season to Madonna University (Mich.) by a 4-3 margin. Lee recovered to take down the University of Rio Grande (Ohio), 9-0, in the nightcap.
On Friday, Lee flexed its offensive muscles, banging out six home runs in big wins over Bluefield (Va.) and Georgetown (Ky.) colleges.
Lee will travel to defending NAIA national champion Tennessee Wesleyan on Tuesday for a single nine-inning game that is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start. The Bulldogs are ranked No.1 in the preseason poll but dropped their first three games this season before bouncing back with a pair of wins Saturday to even their record at 3-3.
FLAMES 9, RIO GRANDE 0
Corey Davis and Brady Renner each blasted home runs to lead the Lee offense that scored nine runs on nine hits. Davis put Lee on the board with a solo shot in the first inning and Renner’s was a two-run shot in the second inning.
Karsten Strieby collected two hits and an RBI, while Roberto Duran joined him as the only Flames tally more than one hit. Duran added three RBI in the win.
Jose Samayoa gave up just one hit and fanned one batter in three innings on the mound to pick up his second win of the season.
CJ Lusted, Jeremy Bales and Ryan Zimmer combined to allow two hits over the final four innings to preserve the shutout. Lusted walked three and struck out one, while Zimmer sat one batter down on strikes.
“I thought we responded well in game two,” said Lee head coach Mark Brew. “We were able to get several big innings early and our pitching was once again excellent. We will have little time to regroup as we travel to Tennessee Wesleyan on Tuesday for a rivalry game. Overall, we will have to play much better then.”
MADONNA 4, FLAMES 3
No. 24 Madonna scored three unearned runs in the second inning to take a 4-1 lead and held off a Lee comeback attempt in the seventh to record the 4-3 upset win.
Chris Avey led off the inning and reached base after being hit by a pitch. Following two quick outs, Corey Davis singled and Derrick Pitts loaded the bases with a hit by pitch. Danny Canela delivered a pinch hit RBI single and Strieby pulled Lee to within one run with an RBI walk. That would be the end of the comeback attempt as Madonna was able to induce a groundout to end the game.
Lee recorded nine hits with Mark Silva, Jordan Stewart and Strieby had two safeties each with Strieby ripping a double.
Clint Terry (1-1) was charged with the loss after giving up four runs (one earned) and four hits in two innings of work. Terry walked one and struck out one.
Jeremy Stawychny struck out five, walked one and gave up four hits in 3 2/3 innings of relief and Keegan Yuhl recorded 1 1/3 innings of no-hit ball to keep the Flames within striking distance.
“I was a little disappointed with the way we performed early in the game,” Brew said. “Give Madonna’s pitcher credit. He did a good job keeping us off balance. I thought we showed some character in our response in the seventh inning, but when you give away so many outs early and dig a hole on the scoreboard, sometimes you can’t overcome it.”
Jeremy Gooding scattered seven hits over six innings in picking up the win for the Crusaders. He gave up one earned run, walked one and struck out seven.
Randall Stempek was credited with the save after putting the lid on Lee’s seventh inning comeback.
FLAMES 6, GEORGETOWN 1
Senior Roberto Duran was the hitting star and three Lee hurlers allowed the Kentucky team only four hits in the seven inning contest. In fact, a pair of Flames accounted for four of Lee's six runs. In the second inning Karsten Strieby tallied on Duran's first long ball of the season. It was the same old story in the sixth when Strieby came home after Duran's blast cleared the left-field wall.
Lee was only able to garner four hits off three Georgetown pitchers. In the third inning the margin grew to 4-0 when Danny Canela walked. Trevor Burgress came in to pinch run and later tallied on a wild pitch. Corey Davis doubled and scored when Streiby reached on an error. Brady Renner had the other hit for the Flames.
Myles Smith picked up his second win of the year after working 4 1/3 innings. The righthander allowed three hits and one earned run. He walked one and fanned six. Alex Moore toed the rubber for the next 1 2/3 innings. He gave up one hit, struckout two and issued one free pass. Andy Hillis sealed the deal in the seventh. He did not allow a hit, walking one and fanning one Tiger hitter.
Georgetown collected a double from Marvin Flores. Justin Moore, Mike Steinke and Jordan Hinshaw singled.
FLAMES 23, BLUEFIELD 2
Lee opened the Tennessee Valley Invitational by banging out 19 hits, including seven extra-base knocks, in breezing past Bluefield College, 23-2.
Danny Canela, Corey Davis, Chris Avey and Jordan Stewart blasted three-run homers to set the pace. Canela, who also stroked a double, was 3-for-3. He scored four times and drove home five. Brandon Rader ripped a triple and single. He collected three RBI and scored once.