The defeat dropped the Flames to 7-2 while the Bulldogs, ranked No. 1 in the preseason NAIA poll, improved to 4-3.
Lee scored single runs in the second and third innings and held TWC scoreless until the fifth. After the Bulldogs cut the margin to 2-1, the Flames went back up 3-1 in the top of the seventh. TWC posted a solo tally in the seventh and took the lead for the first time in the bottom of the eighth.
After the walks and hit batter tied the game at 3-3, TWC scored the winning run after the Flames completed an unassisted double play. Lee put runs at first and third in the ninth, but the game ended with a strike-three call on a three balls and two strikes count.
“It was definitely a disappointing last few innings,” said coach Mark Brew after watching his club let the lead slip away to its archrival. “We knew we would have this type of close game with TWC, but when their offense is created as a result of our inability to throw strikes, it’s extremely discouraging. His Flames outhit the Bulldogs 9-5, but 10 Lee hitters went down on strikes.
“Our competitive level late in the game went down and we also had some opportunities to extend our lead, but couldn’t get a big two-out hit. We will have little time to regroup with a good Mobile team coming to town to open conference this weekend. The Rams and Flames play a three-game series beginning Friday at 4 p.m.
Junior right-hander Keegan Yuhl started and worked 5 2/3 solid innings for Lee. Jose Samayoa, Alex Moore, Jeremy Stawychny, and Andy Hillis followed Yuli to the mound. Left-hander Brian Bardis got the win for TWC.
Brady Renner had a single and double in the loss. Karsten Strieby and Brandon Rader had two hits and Jordan Stewart doubled. Wes Minton had a solo homer in the fifth for TWC.