Playing before a packed house on Military Appreciation Day, the Lee University baseball team found a way to sweep a doubleheader from visiting (Memphis) Christian Brothers, 3-2, 2-1.
Pitching and defense highlighted both wins as the Flames improved to 29-17 on the year and 14-12 in Gulf South Conference play.
The Flames will complete the regular season and conference play on Sunday when they host the same Bucs in a 2 p.m. start at Olympic Field.
Flames 3, CBU 2
Siosi Poti led off the first game with a home run over the left-field fence to put the Flames on top. The margin increased to 2-0 in the third when Poti blasted a double. Andres Nelo walked. Derrick Pitts singled, and Zac Hawkins collected a RBI with a one-base hit.
Christian Brothers did not put their first run on the board until the sixth inning, when Justin Neal singled and trotted around the bases when Josh Hopkins stroked a two-run homer over the left field wall.
The Flames bounced right back in the bottom of the inning when Cameron Brewster led off the inning with a single. He raced to third on Nate Wierzgac’s double. Poti was hit to load the bases, and then Nelo got credit for the winning RBI by picking up a free pass in the victory.
In the 3-2 win, Hawkins blasted a double and two singles. Poti and Wierzgac were the only other Flames with two hits. Lee stranded 10 base runners.
Justin Neal proved to be a tough out for the losers as he banged out three hits, including a double.
Rob Gustitus pitched five solid innings for the Flames. He allowed three hits, no earned runs, struck out two and walked two. Jeremy Bales pitched the next three innings. He surrendered four hits including the two-run homer. The senior struck out three and walked two. He also got credit for his fourth victory against no defeats. Derrick Pitts pitched the last inning and picked up his fourth save.
Flames 2, CBU 1
Senior Jeremy Stawychny was in control from start to finish in picking up his sixth win of the year against four losses. The right-hander went the distance, allowing three hits and no earned runs, striking out six and not walking a batter.
Poti, Hawkins and Wierzgac enjoyed another big game at the plate. They had two hits apiece. As he did in the first game, Poti started things for Lee. The leadoff man put down a bunt single and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nelo. He scored on a RBI single by Hawkins.
The Bucs fought back to tie the game at one in the fifth. Hopkins singled and went to second on a sac bunt, took third on a balk and scored on an infield ground-out by Charles Kelly.
The Flames put the winning run on the board in the sixth on a heads-up play by Hawkins. He blasted a double down the right-field line and took third on a throwing error by the right fielder. Blake Ray drove a shot that was grabbed by the Christian Brother centerfielder but Hawkins tagged up and scored what turned out to be the winning run.
Stephen Joe had the only extra-base hit of the game for the losers, while Hopkins tallied the Buc’s only run.
Jack Parker pitched 4 2/3 innings for the losers. He allowed four hits, one earned run, walked three and struck out three. Michael Spain pitched 1 1/3 innings and was charged with the defeat. He allowed two hits and one run.
“It was two good wins against a club that has lost a lot of close games this season,” noted coach Mark Brew. “We hit the ball hard, especially in the first game but again our pitching and defense carried us.
“Overall, it was just a great day, and winning two games on Military Appreciation Day made it even more special. Hopefully, we can come back and close out this series with a victory on Sunday.”
The win was the sixth straight for the Flames and they will go after a season-high seventh consecutive victory when Dustin Lawson takes the mound for the Flames on Sunday. The first pitch is slated for 2 p.m.