Flames rally to salvage series against Shorter

From LEE SPORTS INFORMATION
Posted 3/20/17

“It ain’t over till it’s over” was a famous philosophy of the late Yogi Berra, and that was certainly the case on Sunday afternoon when the Lee baseball team found itself down 5-1 heading …

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Flames rally to salvage series against Shorter

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“It ain’t over till it’s over” was a famous philosophy of the late Yogi Berra, and that was certainly the case on Sunday afternoon when the Lee baseball team found itself down 5-1 heading into the ninth inning against visiting Shorter University at Olympic Field.

The Flames seemed well on their way to losing two games in the three-game series with the Hawks, but a five-run ninth inning gave coach Mark Brew’s club what turned out to be a seemingly miraculous 6-5 Gulf South Conference victory. After being shut down offensively all game, Lee had finally scored a single run in the seventh inning. Zach Zyburt and Spencer Mossburg had base hits before Nate Wierzgac picked up his first RBI of the afternoon, scoring Zyburt with a one-base knock.

The bottom of the ninth started when Mossburg was hit by a pitch. Drew Johnson followed with a single and both runners advanced to second and third on a balk by Shorter relief pitcher Jesse Wheeler. The Hawks quickly made a pitching change and brought on their top reliever, Jonathan Pintaro.

Wierzgac, who enjoyed a tremendous series, tripled to right-center, scoring Mossburg and Johnson to cut the margin to 5-3. However, Hawk hurler Pintaro retired the next two Flames before the miraculous comeback took full effect.

With two outs, Geremy Walton walked and stole second. Miguel Pimentel followed with a free pass. Tyler Payne’s clutch single to right center scored Wierzgac and Walton to tie the thriller at 5-5. Pimentel advanced to third on the hit and scored the winning run on a wild pitch. “I told Miguel to be alert for a wild pitch, and that’s exactly what happened,” remarked Brew.

“Wow, what a finish to a great Parents Weekend,” said Brew, flashing a big smile. “We had a lot of great swings throughout the day, but we just couldn’t get the big clutch hit. Then all of sudden, everything started clicking in the ninth inning. Wierzgac and Payne delivered two of the biggest hits in our 2017 season.

“Hopefully, this will create some momentum for our offense. Miguel (Pimentel) swung the bat really well today, and Drew (Johnson) played well this weekend. Nate (Wierzgac) has been awesome behind the plate, and at the plate. If we can get a few more guys going in the lineup we will become a more dynamic team.”

Wierzgac collected a triple, two singles, drove home three runs and scored once as the Flames improved to 18-9 overall and 8-7 in the GSC standings. Shorter dropped to 5-10 and 6-9. Pimentel followed with three hits plus scored the winning run. Johnson had a pair of hits and Jeffrey Chapuran collected a double as the Flames pounded out 14 hits.

Bailey Gerstner tripled and singled during the Hawks’ losing effort. He collected an RBI and scored once. Blaze Vazquez and Jack Leech had two-base hits, while Dustin Lawson and Luke Acevedo collected two hits. All totaled, the Hawks had nine hits off three Lee pitchers. The Flames were guilty of two costly errors and Shorter one.

Jumpel Akanuma drew the starting pitching assignment for the Flames and hurled 5 2-3 innings. He allowed seven hits, one earned run, struck out four and walked one. A pair of throwing errors in the third inning sparked a three-run Hawk rally and hurt Akanuma’s chances for a mound decision. Jay Prior came on for 2 2-3 innings and gave up two hits, no earned runs, struck out two and walked two. Joe Parete (4-0) was awarded the pitching victory after pitching 2-3 of an inning. He picked up a strikeout and walked one.

“I want to single out our pitching staff,” praised Brew. “They answered the call and we got great starting and relief pitching the entire weekend.”

The Flames will need more of the same when they travel to Trevecca Tuesday for a single nine-inning game. They return to Olympic Field and host Delta State in another three-game GSC series this weekend.

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