Brew’s clubs have had their share of thrilling wins and some heartbreaking defeats, but none have stung worse than a 5-4 loss to Embry-Riddle (Fla.) on Monday evening at Harris Field.
The 50-11 Flames held a 4-2 lead over the 50-13 Eagles going into the bottom of the eighth inning. After senior Jose Samayoa held the Florida club to only one hit over 6 1/3 innings and Kyle Briner had come on to get the Flames out of a jam in the bottom of the seventh, the real trouble started in the eighth.
Alex Moore went to the mound to start the inning. He walked the first batter he faced, allowed a single to Jeff Lemon and loaded the bases with a free pass to Kevin Lindheim.
Brew quickly went to the bullpen and called on Jeremy Stawychny to help limit the damage. The right-hander got a pop-out to right and another fly ball to shortstop. With two outs it appeared the Flames were out of the jam when Adam Cellini lifted a routine fly ball to right field.
Like the nightmare most baseball players have woken up at some point in their careers, the ball hit the right-fielder’s glove and dropped to the ground. With two outs in the innings all three Eagles were running as soon as the batted ball was hit and all three crossed home plate to put the stunned Flames down 5-4.
The Flames dropped into the loser’s bracket and face Missouri on at 6 this evening. Missouri Baptist stayed alive with a one-run victory over Rogers State. Faulkner University downed The Masters and will test Embry-Riddle at 9:30. In the other loser’s bracket game, Lewis-Clark State will seek to stay alive against The Master’s in the 3 p.m. game.
“It took more than that one dropped ball for us to lose this game,” said the deeply disappointed Lee coach. “We couldn’t throw strikes in the eighth, and we had a base-running blunder in the seventh that really hurt. We all have to share in the loss, and that includes the coaching staff.”
Lee opened the contest with a run in the first. Brady Renner, who scored two of the Flames’ four runs, walked. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Josh Silvers and was plated on a single by Danny Canela.
The Eagles tied the game in the bottom of the first, but Lee went back on top 3-1 in the fifth. Renner walked and Silver was hit by a pitch. Corey Davis ripped the first of his two doubles that scored Renner and Silver. In the seventh Davis doubled again and Karsten Strieby followed with a single that sent Davis across the dish.
Samayoa hurled a perfect sixth inning but ran into trouble in the seventh. An error helped the Embry-Riddle cause and two hit batters followed. Brew called on Kyle Briner to face Kyle Chastain who lifted a sacrifice fly to plate Mike Gragilla. The Flames nailed Cellina at third after he tried to tag up and move up and advance on the play, and the score remained at 4-2
Samayoa allowed just one hit and no earned runs. He fanned six, walked two and hit three batters. “Jose pitched an outstanding game,” said Brew. “Briner came on and did the job, and Stawychny was great in the eighth. We are out of the inning, if we don’t drop the fly ball.” Four Lee pitchers limited Embry-Riddle to just two hits.
Davis paced Lee’s eight-hit attack with two doubles. Pitts had two singles. Renner, Canela, Strieby and Rader had Lee’s other hits. Renner tallied twice and Davis had two RBIs, while Canela and Strieby had the others.
Stetson Nelson started and worked 7 1/3 innings for the Eagles. Jon Rapose came on in the eighth and picked up the win. Jeff Lemons had two hits and an RBI for the winners.
“I expect our guys to bounce back on Tuesday,” said Brew. “We’ve been doing it all season. If we can get to Wednesday, the NAIA will re-work the bracket and anything can happen. We still have the pitching staff that can allow us to stay alive. I expect another good effort out of Clint Terry on Tuesday.”