It is hard to believe the fifth-ranked Flames have posted 319 victories and averaged well over 50 wins per year but never won a championship in the TransSouth or SSAC tournaments.
Combined coaching efforts by former Lee coach David Altopp and Brew resulted in eight regular-season titles. It is easy to see why the Flames’ skipper is excited about the opportunity to claim the crown at Golden Park on Monday evening. Two years ago Lee and Brewton-Parker shared the tournament championship after the title game was washed out.
There are only three teams remaining in the 2012 tourney. Shorter University and No. 3 Faulkner University will tangle on Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. for the right to face the unbeaten Flames in hopefully the championship game at 7 p.m. However, a loss by the Brew crew would force another contest on Tuesday afternoon.
“I think our players realize the extra incentive going into Monday’s game,” noted Brew. “We had one of our best practices in several weeks this afternoon and we hope that will carry over into Monday. Our goal was to come to Columbus and win this championship.”
Lee has been led in three tournament games by Jorge Saez, Roberto Duran and Brady Renner. Saez is hitting an even .500 (7-for-14). He has five RBI, one home run and a double. Duran, who has also been excellent in the field, is hitting .400 (4-for-10). He has tallied five runs and Renner has made the best of his four hits. He has scored six runs and drawn four walks. Blake Barber has paced the Flames in RBIs with seven. He has also homered and scored a couple of runs.
“We need to get Corey Davis, Roberto Reyes and Mike Moore going,” pointed out the Lee coach. “We will be hard to beat if those guys start clicking with the top of our order.”
Brew will likely start Jose Samayoa on Monday. Samayoa will be making his seventh start of the year but has been used mostly in relief during the second half of the season. On the year, the Lee right-hander has a 2.56 ERA and is a perfect 7-0. Samayoa is the freshest of most of the Lee regular hurlers. He has worked in only one inning in Lee’s first three wins.
After the SSAC tournament, the Flames will return to Cleveland, finish up their final exams and get ready to host the Opening Round of the NAIA National Tournament starting on May 10. Four other clubs will be named to join the Flames in that double-elimination tourney.