After falling to the same Spartan club on Friday, Lee advanced to Saturday evening’s contest with a 13-0 win over Avila University (Mo.) in the afternoon game, thanks to a sparkling performance by Vince Spilker.
The Flames and Missouri Baptist will now return for a winner-take-all championship on Monday at 1 p.m., for a trip to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.
“I told you there was a lot of pride and a lot of character. I’m very proud of these guys,” said an emotional coach Mark Brew. “Amazing fight, we hoped there would be baseball Monday in Cleveland, Tennessee, and now there is going to be.”
Flames 4, Spartans 3
Lee struggled to get to Missouri Baptist starter Julien Soucy (6-3) the entire evening, scratching just a single run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly scoring Trevor Burgess, following a triple.
After loading the bases in the ninth, the Spartans went to the bullpen, but to no avail as the Flames hit a pair of RBI singles and a sacrifice fly by Jorge Saez to score the winning run.
Matt Passauer was solid on the mound for the Flames, throwing 3 2/3 innings of no-hit relief to keep the Flames in the contest. The senior moves to 2-0 with the shut-down performance.
“I have to single out Matt Passauer — we don’t get a chance to win that game unless Matt strings that together for us,” added Brew.
Burgess and Edmanuel Rivera each had a pair of hits in the win, as the Flames totaled eight. Rivera tallied a pair of RBI, with Burgess scoring once and knocking in one run.
Flames 13, Eagles 0
Spilker worked eight innings to move to 7-2 on the season, including working 6 1/3 perfect innings to start the contest. The junior allowed no runs on one hit, striking out six and walking two.
Eleven different Lee (52-9-1) batters contributed at least one hit, led by a 4-for-5 performance by Corey Davis. Davis drilled a double, scored three times and had two RBIs and a pair of stolen bases. Burgess turned in a three-hit performance, adding a run scored and an RBI.
Saez, Blake Barber, Mike Moore, and Roberto Duran rounded out the multihit games for the Flames, all earning a pair of hits, with Saez, Moore, and Duran each scoring twice. Moore and Rivera each had two RBIs.
Matt Ricketts had the lone hit for Avila, grounding a ball through the hole at second base. Tyler Osborne fell to 0-2 after allowing 10 runs on 14 hits in 4 2/3 innings. The Eagles are eliminated from the tournament with an overall record of 41-16.
Spartans 5, Flames 4
On Friday, the Flames dropped a 5-4 decision to Missouri Baptist to fall into the loser’s bracket.
The Flames’ scoring started quickly, much like Thursday, as Lee scored a single run in the first and added two more in the second. The Spartans countered with three in the third and Lee added a single insurance run in the fifth, running the lead to 4-2.
The big blow came in the seventh inning off the bat of Missouri Baptist first baseman Scott Krutel, a bases-loaded double that scored three runs and put the Spartans ahead for good. Krutel finished the contest with a pair of hits and four runs batted in.
Lee registered four hits in the contest, including a double by Edmanuel Rivera and singles from Roberto Reyes, Roberto Duran, and Cameron Brewster. Rivera and Brewster each scored once and knocked in a run, with Blake Barber and Trevor Burgess each crossing the plate one time.
“We hit the ball hard but didn’t have a lot to show for it,” stated Brew. “They played deep on us and everything we hit they flagged down.”
Patrick Merkling (8-2) started and was charged with five runs, three of them earned, on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out seven while walking just one. Joe Fabre entered with the bases loaded and retired one batter, before surrendering the double to Krutel, the lone hit in his two-thirds of an inning. Jose Samayoa retired the Spartans in order in his one inning.
For Missouri Baptist, David Williams moves to 5-0, working seven innings and allowing three hits and all four of the Flames runs, three of them earned. Ben Dorman worked two innings to earn his third save of the season.
Ryan Barban earned a game-high four hits, knocking in one run, scoring once and stealing a base. Patrick Johnson had a pair of hits, scoring twice.