The Lee University Flames baseball team scored in each of the first five innings, passing their first test in the NAIA tournament opening round with a 12-1 win over Bacone College on Thursday at Olympic Field.
The Flames (51-8-1) move into the winner’s portion of the bracket and will take on Missouri Baptist University Friday at 3:30 p.m. The winner there will earn a spot in the championship game.
“This is the first part of the process,” said Lee head coach Mark Brew. “(Tomorrow) is the biggest game of the tournament, I think, because it puts you in a place (with a win) where you have to be beaten twice.”
Mike Moore opened things up in the first inning, drilling a 3-run home run over the left field fence. Moore led the Flames with four runs batted in on a pair of hits and also scored twice.
Blake Barber and Roberto Reyes each added a pair of hits combining for three RBIs with Barber scoring twice and Reyes scoring three times including a two-run long ball. The Flames drilled 11 hits while capitalizing on three Warrior miscues.
“We did a good job offensively early,” added Brew. “Mike (Moore) really got us started with the home runs and the middle of the lineup produced pretty well.”
The Flames got a solid pitching performance out of Kris Hall, who moves to 11-0 after working six innings. The junior allowed one run on three hits striking out nine and walking two.
Ryan Zimmer, Mike Fasolo and James Rechenbach each worked a single inning of shutout relief, each earning a pair of strikeouts. The Lee defense was solid as well, supporting the pitching without committing any errors.
For Bacone (29-24), Eric Aguillard falls to 5-3 after allowing six runs, five earned, in 2 1/3 innings. Anthony Seabolt and Antonio Horn each had a pair of hits with Horn scoring the lone run after blasting a triple and advancing on a sacrifice fly by Steven Smith.
The Oklahoma club reached the evening matchup with the Flames by beating No. 4 seed Avila University, 5-1, in the tournament’s first game Thursday at noon. Justin McGee pitched a complete game scattering eight hits to allow the one run.
In game two, Missouri Baptist outslugged Freed-Hardeman University, 9-6. Each team drilled 14 hits. Freed-Hardeman will take on Avila in the tournament’s first elimination game today at noon with the winner taking on Bacone at 7 p.m.
“Missouri Baptist swung it well (against Freed-Hardeman). They probably didn’t play very well early, but the last four or five innings they played really well and got in to Freed’s bullpen. They’re going to bring a much better test for us,” warned Brew.