MASON, Ohio — Lee's hopes of claiming an NCCAA World Series Championship ended on Saturday evening with a 5-1 defeat to an extremely talented Fresno Pacific (Calif.) club. The Sunbirds (37-18) marched through the tournament with six straight victories.
The Flames completed the 2014 season with a 37-19 record, placed fourth in the highly competitive Gulf South Conference and then came battling back to win pool play after losing to Toccoa Falls (Ga.) in the opening round of the World Series. In Saturday's semi-final opening game, the Flames defeated rival Shorter (Ga.) University 11-8 to earn the berth in the championship game against Fresno.
Cameron Brewster and Siosi Poti paced the Lee 14-hit attack. Brewster was 4-of-4 with a double, while Poti was 3-of-3 and scored two runs.
All totaled, Lee banged out 14 hits. Derrick Pitts collected three RBI and also ripped a double. Nathan Wierzgac had Lee's only other extra base hit, a two-bagger and he posted three RBI. Jordan Stewart pitched in with a couple of hits. He also scored once and knocked in a pair of runs.
The Flames were forced to use five pitchers to shut down the Shorter hitting attack. Jeremy Bales came on in a relief role and picked up the pitching win, while Pitts went to the mound in the eighth and ninth innings and posted the save.
Zack Santos swung the big bat for the losers. He stroked a triple in the second inning and finished with two hits and four RBI. The Hawks were aided most by Lee pitchers who walked 10 batters before finally getting the win.
In the championship game, the Sunbirds rode the two-hit pitching of Josh Medeles. The lefty took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before allowing a double to Zac Hawkins.
Lee scored its only run of the game in the eighth inning when Brewster doubled and later scored on a wild pitch. All totaled, Medeles allowed just two hits. He struck out four and walked four Lee hitters. JD Salles came on in the eighth inning and picked up the save.
The Flames started CJ Lusted who went out in the first inning after suffering a leg injury. The Sunbirds opened the inning with a double by Baron Bowen and he scored on a wild pitch.
Fresno scored two insurance runs in the second and gave Medeles all the support he needed and after three solid innings by reliever Ryan Zimmer, the Sunbirds tacked on two runs in the sixth.
Michael Hostelter was 4-of-4 for the winners. He scored a run and collected a RBI. Kaohu Gaspara doubled and singled in the win.
Lee's Josh Silver was named to the all-tournament team as only one player was named from each team participating in the series.
After suffering a first round defeat in pool play on Wednesday, the Lee baseball team bounced back to defeat Lancaster (Pa.) on Thursday and then score two big wins over Trevecca Nazarene (4-1) and Cedarville (Ohio) University (9-3) on Friday.
FLAMES 9, CEDARVILLE 3
The Flames exploded for eight runs in the first three innings and then added a single run in the fifth to hand Cedarville (31-26) its first pool play loss. By virtue of Lee's victory over the Yellow Jackets, coach Mark Brew's club was declared the Pool B winner.
Cedarville jumped on top 2-0 in the top of the first inning but the surging Flames, who have now won 13 of their last 14 games, evened the score in the bottom of the inning. Josh Silver stroked his second home run of the World Series and Derrick Pitts followed with a booming triple to left-center. Cedarville starting pitcher Trent Johnson then walked Zac Hawkins and Blake Ray before he issued a third straight free pass to Andres Nelo to tie the contest at two.
Lee moved on top to stay in the bottom of the second. Zack Zyburt was hit by a pitch, Siosi Poti singled and with two outs, Pitts, who has been red-hot over the past two games, blasted a three-run homer over the right-field wall.
The Flames were far from finished. They tacked on three more scores in the third. Nelo started the rally with a single to left. Cameron Brewster walked. Nate Wierzgac lived on an infield hit and Zyburt singled to drive in two runs. The final score of the inning came when Silver doubled down the left-field line.
After blowing a couple of big opportunities to increase the lead, the Flames tacked on their only other run in the fifth inning. Wierzgac was hit by a pitch. Seth Gower, who was pitch-running for Wierzgac, later scored on a throwing error by the Yellow Jackets.
Junior Dustin Lawson gave the Flames the pitching start they were hoping for. In 6 2/3 innings, he allowed six hits, three earned runs, struck out four but walked seven in picking up his seventh win of the year against three losses. Freshman Lucas Barnett came on to give the Brew crew 1 1/3 innings of solid pitching and registered a strikeout and CJ Lusted closed the deal and retired all three batters he faced in the ninth.
Trent Johnson was the starting and losing pitcher for Cedarville. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings, while Peter Martin came in to hurl the final 5 1/3 innings for the losers.
"I was pleased with the way we responded in both wins today," remarked Brew after the Flames improved to 36-18 on the year. "Lawson gave us a solid start. Silver is starting to swing the bat much better and Derrick Pitts had an outstanding day at the plate. We also made some outstanding defensive plays in both victories.
"We will have to try to figure out how we will use our pitching staff in tomorrow's game. We feel like we have several quality relief pitchers that are ready since Jeremy Stawychny and Lawson gave us the innings we needed today."
FLAMES 4, TREVECCA 1
Riding another masterful start on the mound, this time by Stawychny, the Lee baseball team defeated Trevecca , 4-1 in their third of four pool play games at the NCCAA World Series.
Stawychny (8-4) tossed a complete game gem allowing the Trojans just one run on five hits. The righty fanned three and walked only two.
The Flames (35-18) provided more than enough run support in the second inning as they scored four runs on four hits to back Stawychny on the mound. Ray led things off with a double and moved to third on an error allowing Nelo to reach. Wierzgac would load the bases on an infield hit before Brewster reached on the second error of the inning by the Trojans allowing both Ray and Nelo to score.
Poti would plate the third run of the inning on a sacrifice bunt and Silver would complete the rally with a RBI single to left center to score Brewster.
Trevecca (43-14) would tally a single run in the eighth inning as Tyler Tichenor singled home Ryan Arington to break up the shutout. After a hit batter brought the tying run to the plate for the Trojans, Stawychny ended the threat by inducing a fly ball to right.
In the last two games the Lee pitching staff has been nearly unhittable. The Flames have tossed 17 innings giving up just one run on seven hits to move to 2-1 in pool play.
Pitts led the way for Lee at the dish with three singles. Wierzgac finished with a pair of hits and scored a run while Ray had the lone extra base hit when he doubled to lead off the second inning. Silver, Poti and Brewster each drove in a run.
Mike Purcell (10-2) was the tough luck loser for the Trojans. Purcell went 8 2/3 innings giving up four runs (one earned) on seven hits. He struck out five and walked three. Michael Donaldson came on in relief to record the final out in the ninth.