The Flames need a victory over William Carey on Friday evening (7 p.m.) to secure a spot in the Southern States Athletic Conference championship game against Faulkner University. The Eagles improved to 3-0 with a 1-0 win over Belhaven on Thursday.
A ringing double by Karsten Strieby and a long home run blast into the wind by Danny Canela set the stage for four Lee runs in the second inning. Brandon Rader was hit by a pitch. Cameron Brewster singled, and Mark Silva knocked in a run with a one-base hit to help the cause.
Lee threatened again in the third inning but left the bases loaded after Strieby, Canela and Rader had singled. The Flames went quietly in the fourth and fifth before the big explosion in the sixth.
Eleven Lee batters went to the dish in the sixth. The inning saw Brewster stroke a pair of one-base knocks and drive in two runs. Josh Silver plated two more runs with a single, and Corey Davis ripped a double that pushed another score across the plate. Silva also had a hit and scored a run in the uprising. Derrick Pitts, Strieby and Canela drew walks to load the bases before Rader was hit by a pitch for a second time and collected an RBI.
Every Lee player but one collected hits. Brewster was the leader with three hits, two runs scored and two RBI. Silver followed with two hits, a run scored and two runs batted in. Canela was a perfect two-for-two, and Silva had two hits, a run scored and an RBI.
“We hit the ball better today but still had a lull in the middle innings,” said coach Mark Brew after his Flames improved to 45-10 on the year. “Myles (Smith) was in total command of his fast ball, and he’s hard to beat in that situation.”
Smith (10-3) recorded eight strikeouts over six innings of work. He allowed five hits and walked one. CJ Lusted came on to work a perfect seventh inning.
Ryan Hines started and lasted only one inning for the Rams and was charged with the pitching defeat.
“I was glad to see us get to Hines in the early innings,” noted Brew. “He had given us trouble in earlier games.”
No Mobile batter had more than one hit, and Jared Brannon collected a double in the third inning. Lee quickly wiped out the Rams’ only real scoring threat in the third when Silva and Silver combined to turn a double play.
“I don’t think there’s another double-play combination in the NAIA that can turn it like those two can execute,” praised Brew.
The Flames must face a William Carey team that took two of a three-game series from the Brew crew earlier in the year.
“They are a good club, and we will have our hands full,” said the Lee coach. “We’ve got to have a victory to be able to challenge Faulkner for the championship.”
The latest NAIA ranking has Faulkner listed as No. 2 and Lee right behind at No. 3.