The Lee squad has earned eight regular-season titles and tied for the tournament title in 2010, the final game that season was canceled due to rain, but have now earned their first outright SSAC Tournament championship.
“Finally, is all I can say,” noted a relieved Coach Mark Brew. “These guys have been focused all year. I’m really proud of these guys, really happy for the seniors, it is a great group to work with.”
Monday’s win also moves the No. 5 Flames to 50-8-1 for the season, the sixth consecutive season of 50 or more wins for Brew and the Lee club.
“A lot of great players have come through the program and done a good job to win these games; we’ve been fortunate to get those guys here,” added Brew.
In Monday’s championship game, the two squads were scoreless through 3 ? innings before the Lee bats exploded for multiple runs in each of the remaining innings. The Flames totaled 15 hits in the contest and stole five bases.
Not to be outdone, three Flames’ pitchers combined to hold the No. 3-ranked Eagles to just three hits. Jose Samayoa (8-0) started and worked seven innings allowing three hits, striking out six and walking seven. James Rechenbach and Ryan Zimmer each worked one perfect inning to close the door.
Jorge Saez continued his outstanding play in the tournament going 3 for 5 including a double and four runs batted in. The junior catcher was named SSAC Player of the Week Monday before being named tournament MVP during a postgame presentation.
“These were huge performances all the way throughout the tournament for Jorge (Saez). I’m really proud of him. He’s had a huge stretch run for us and we hope that continues,” said Brew. All totaled, Saez finished 10 for 19 at the plate in the tournament.
Roberto Reyes, Mike Moore, Roberto Duran and Edmanuel Rivera each added a pair of hits in the win. Reyes drilled a home run, scored twice and had two RBIs. Rivera also had a pair of runs and an RBI with Duran scoring three times.
For Faulkner (48-11), Zak Colby was one of three players with one hit knocking the only extra-base hit with a double. Cory Hamilton (1-3) started on the mound, one of seven Faulkner pitchers in the contest, allowing three runs on five hits in four innings.
The Flames will get some much-needed rest and time to focus on completing finals before returning to Olympic Field to host the NAIA National Championship Opening Round, May 10-14.
The field of five teams will be announced May 6 with the winner of the double elimination bracket advancing to the 2012 Avista-NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.
“We’re in a good position moving forward, playing well right now. It’s exciting to springboard this success into the opening round. If we can get three more wins we’ll be back where we want to be,” concluded the Lee skipper.