After falling to No. 3 seed Embry-Riddle (Fla.) in a 5-4 heartbreaker Monday evening, the second-seeded Flames responded with a 12-2 torching of Missouri Baptist in an elimination game.
Lee will now face Southern States Athletic Conference rival Faulkner University (54-12) at 9:30 this evening. The No. 1-seeded Eagles defeated Embry-Riddle 10-3 in Tuesday’s late game and are the only unbeaten team remaining.
The Flames and Faulkner, which finished No. 3 and 1 respectively in the final NAIA Coaches Poll during the regular season, have not squared off this season, as their SSAC Tournament championship game was rained out.
World Series host Lewis-Clark State (44-14) remained alive with a thrilling 3-2 win over The Master's (Calif.) Tuesday, scoring all three of its runs in the bottom of the ninth to pull out the victory. The Warriors will face Embry-Riddle (50-14) in tonight’s 6 p.m. elimination contest.
"I'm proud of the way our guys responded after the tough loss on Monday," said Flames head coach Mark Brew after his team improved to 51-11 on the year. "I like the attitude our guys displayed. I told them our chances were as good as anybody's from this point forward."
The big bats of Josh Silver and Corey Davis got the Flames started after winning pitcher Clint Terry worked himself out of a jam in the top of the first. Silver and Davis homered and the Flames never looked back against the Spartans, who finished the season at 37-14.
Silver finished the day with three hits, three runs scored and a pair of RBIs. Davis continued his assault on the opponent's pitchers and drove in two runs, scored twice and added a single to his long ball.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first, Lee waited until the fifth to actually seal the victory. Nine batters went to the plate in the inning and it all started when Mark Silva reached on an error and stole second. Brady Renner was safe on an error and Silver collected an RBI with a one-base hit. The rally continued on a walk to Danny Canela and Davis' RBI single.
The Flames were not finished as Derrick Pitts lifted an RBI sacrifice fly to center and Karsten Strieby singled to push home another run. Former Cleveland High and Cleveland State standout Cameron Brewster capped off the five-run fifth and gave Lee a 7-0 lead with an RBI sacrifice fly to right.
Four more runs made it an 11-0 game in the sixth. The highlight of the inning was a two-run homer off the right-field scoreboard by Renner. Silver picked up his third hit in the frame and Canela drilled a double to get his name in the RBI category. Pitts also knocked in a run in the sixth.
The final tally came in the seventh, when Chris Avey was hit by a pitch and later scored after Robbie Duran singled and Avey raced around the bases on a Missouri Baptist throwing error.
Renner and Strieby joined the two-hit parade. Renner also had a pair of RBIs and scored twice as the Flames banged out 13 hits and took advantage of three Spartan errors.
Terry pitched seven innings and scattered nine hits. He allowed one earned run, struck out five and walked two. "Clint was solid and gave us the type of effort we needed," noted Brew. "He helped us beat a good Missouri Baptist team today."
David Eskew pitched 2/3 of an inning and Jeremy Bales came on in the eighth and recorded an out to help the Flames get out of a bases-loaded jam. Alex Moore hurled the final inning.
Ryan Gunhouse had four hits and an RBI for the losers, while Joseph Taylor had three hits and one RBI. Taylor and Gunhouse doubled for the Spartans.
Missouri Baptist used seven pitchers to try to cool off the hot Lee bats. Ethan Gibbons (11-1) suffered his first defeat of the year. In four innings, he allowed seven hits and two earned runs. He recorded a strikeout and walked one.