Akanuma no-no sparks Flames

By LEE SPORTS INFORMATION

Posted 2/24/18

Lee University senior Jumpei Akanuma threw his first American no-hitter and his teammates banged out 14 hits in a convincing 10-0, seven-inning run-rule victory over the University of West …

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Akanuma no-no sparks Flames

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Lee University senior Jumpei Akanuma threw his first American no-hitter and his teammates banged out 14 hits in a convincing 10-0, seven-inning run-rule victory over the University of West Alabama on Saturday afternoon at Olympic Field.

The win gave the Flames the edge in the Gulf South Conference series, 2-1 and sets up another strong test against visiting University of North Alabama next Saturday and Sunday.

Akanuma, who is in his second season as a Lee hurler, came to the Flames as a transfer student from the College of the Desert (Calif.). "It's my first no-hitter since coming to America," said the Japanese right-handed hurler as he flashed a big smile during the interview. "I had my slider working and was able to put my fastball on the inside portion of the plate."

Akanuma (2-1) faced only two batters over the limit during his seven-inning performance. Only two UWA hitters reached due to errors by Lee infielders. He threw only 76 pitches and struck out 11, while issuing no free passes.

"Wow!!! What an incredible performance by Jumpei," said Lee head coach Mark Brew. "He has thrown extremely well all year, but today he took it to another level. Jumpei has been a different pitcher this year and has worked very hard to become as consistent as he has been this year. Coach (Richie) Goodenow also deserves a lot of credit for continuing to push Jumpei to believe in his stuff."

Added Brew, "That's the first no hitter for our program in a while and certainly the first since we made the transition to NCAA Division II. To have it come as a series-clinching performance made it even more special."

The Flames wasted no time in jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and setting the tone for the entire afternoon. Playing a lot of "small ball", Lee opened the initial inning with a pair of bunts that went for base hits. Chase Gadau picked up a pair of RBI with a solid single and the Flames were in business.

Jordan Howard paced Lee at the dish with a perfect 3-for-3 outing. He capped off the afternoon by driving home a run in the seventh inning to end the run-rule contest. All totaled, Howard posted three singles, was hit by a pitch, walked once and scored three runs.

Miguel Pimentel stroked three hits including a bunt single. He also doubled and collected a RBI. Spencer Mossburg had a two-hit afternoon, scored once and drove home another. Ryan Bemish doubled and Dalton Ney ripped a one-base knock that scored two runs as the Flames sent 10 batters to the dish in the seventh inning.

"I was really proud of our offense," explained Brew. "We created lots of pressure on them with our short game and running game. Then we started to get some big swings in timely spots. That's the best we have looked offensively as a unit thus far."

Lee 3, West Alabama 1

After losing the first game of the three-game series 3-1 to the visitors, the Flames turned the table on the Tigers in Friday's nightcap thanks to the solid pitching effort of Pat Morrow, winning 3-1. The right-hander turned in six innings, allowing just four hits and one earned run. He struck out eight and walked three.

Jordan Howard blasted a solo homer over the left-centerfield wall in the fifth inning to put Lee up 2-1. "Jordan's homer was a big swing for us," noted coach Brew.  "We needed someone to step up and deliver in a big moment."

Lee outhit UWA 9-5. Pimentel and Meeker banged out two hits apiece, while Chase Andrews hit a rocket off the left-field wall that went for two bases, and he also singled.

In the top of the seventh, coach Brew went to the bullpen and called on Joe Parete to close the victory. Parete allowed a hit and a walk before sealing the deal with a strikeout and a ground out.

West Alabama 3, Lee 1

In the opener of the three-game series, the Tigers ended a scoreless pitching duel with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings and then added an insurance run in the ninth.

The Flames scored their only run with a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning. Gadau walked, Mossburg reached on a single and Lee loaded the bases when Thomas Zazzaro reached on an error. Tyler Payne walked with the bases loaded to push home the score. Payne, Howard, Pimentel, Gadau, Mossburg and Zazzaro had the Flames six hits in the loss.

Steffon Moore was the winning pitcher. He hurled six complete innings and allowed only three hits but walked four while striking out six. Layton Dill came on to register the save and worked three innings, allowing three hits and one earned run. He pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth.

Eric Freeman started for the Flames and turned in 5.2 innings. He allowed just four hits, two earned runs, fanned five and walked two. Wes Albert came out of the pen for the final 3.1 innings. He gave up three hits and one earned run while striking out three.

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