LEWISTON, Idaho — Lee University rode the pitching of Curtis Camilli and Mark Passauer, plus outstanding hitting by Roberto Reyes to overcome a heart-breaking loss on Friday and pin a solid 7-3 defeat on fellow SSAC-member Faulkner University in the losers’ bracket of the NAIA World Series Saturday.
After holding a three-run lead over LSU-Shreveport going into the bottom of the ninth in Friday’s opener, the Flames ended up falling 5-4, forcing Lee to make the quick turnaround to play Faulkner in an elimination game Saturday morning.
The Flames will take today off and then continue play at Harris Field on Monday at 3 p.m. They face the loser of the Oklahoma City and host Lewis-Clark State game that was played after press time Saturday evening.
Reyes was perfect in pacing Lee to its 48th win of the year against only 13 losses. The junior first-baseman homered and stroked three doubles, while collecting four RBIs and scoring twice in Saturday’s victory.
Camilli (8-2) pitched 6 1/3 innings. He gave up only four hits, three earned runs, struck out five and walked five.
Passauer came on in a critical situation in the seventh inning. He immediately got Faulkner’s leading hitter Michael Clayton to pop up and then induced a groundout to end the Eagle threat. All totaled, Passauer hurled 2 2/3 innings. He allowed just one hit, fanned three and walked one.
“Matt’s (Passauer) performance was huge,” said coach Mark Brew. “Camilli gave us an excellent effort and his work certainly gave us a chance to win. When Reyes hits, we score runs. It has been that way all year.”
Faulkner (48-15) moved on top 1-0 in the first inning, but the Flames fought back to take a 2-1 lead in the second. Reyes doubled, Travis Anderson singled and Preston Scoggins collected a key RBI double.
The Eagles bounced back to tie the game at two in the third on a walk and a run-scoring double by Tyler Miramontes.
In the fourth, Reyes moved Lee back on top with a solo homer, but Faulkner was not about to go away. The Eagles tied the game at three in the bottom of the same inning.
Aided by two Faulkner errors in the fifth and a wall-banging double by Reyes that scored Chris Grayson and Michael Brown, the Flames could smell victory.
Pitching took over for the remainder of the contest for the talented staff. Jonathan Clark started the inning with a bunt single. Grayson was safe on an error that scored Clark, who had earlier stolen second base. Reyes put an explanation mark on a super afternoon with a two-base knock that pushed Grayson across the plate
All totaled, the Flames posted 10 hits with Scoggins the only other hitter with multiple hits. He singled and doubled. No Faulkner player had more than one hit.
“I really like the way our team bounced back today,” pointed out Brew. “We were focused at the plate and in the field. I could not ask for a better performance after the disappointment we suffered on Friday. After a day of rest, I think our club could be able to make a deep run in the tournament.”
Making their fifth straight World Series appearance, including a pair of national runner-up finishes, the Flames will have to battle one of two NAIA powerhouses on Monday.
Lewis Clark (38-15) has won 16 titles in 29 previous World Series, plus is playing on its home field. The Warriors opened their 13th straight World Series by defeating Tennessee Weselyan (40-20) 5-4 in Friday’s opening round.
Oklahoma City (45-12) is seeded second in this year’s event, plus is making its 13th World Series appearance, winning the crown in 2005.
Pilots 5, Flames 4
The Flames watched what appeared to be a sure NAIA World Series victory slip away in the game’s final at bat.
Lee ace Shay Crawford sailed through eight innings, striking out 15 LSU-Shreveport hitters and the Flames held what looked like a convincing 4-1 advantage. Crawford hit the Pilot’s lead-off man to open the bottom of the ninth. He was lifted from the mound after throwing 126 pitches, and allowing only four hits.
Three relief pitchers later — they issued five bases-on-balls, allowing one hit — the Pilots pinned a stunning 5-4 loss on the Flames.
“I told the team before the game that it took 27 outs to win and we came up short,” said coach Brew after one of the most frustrating losses of his young and highly successful career. “Shay (Crawford) pitched a tremendous game and we thought we had the bullpen that could seal the victory. We also knew LSU-Shreveport was a tough team that was not going to quit.”
The Flames opened the game with a solo run in the top of the first. Jonathan Clark, who finished the day with two hits and drove in another, started the inning with a single. He stole second and scored on a single by Chris Grayson who posted one of his two RBIs and also had a pair of hits.
Lee waited until the sixth to score again against LSUS right-hander Justin Montensen. Clark walked and was sacrificed to second by Joe Ramirez. Grayson came through again with his second hit and RBI.
The Pilots made it a 2-1 game in the bottom of the sixth when Curtis Beaudoin drilled a homer over the left-center-field wall. The margin reached 4-1 in the seventh and eighth innings.
Logan Bowers, pinch-running for catcher Travis Anderson, tallied the initial run after Henderson and Seth Walker had singled. Michael Brown put what looked a punctuation mark on the sure win with a solo blast in the eighth.
The nightmare started for the Flames in the bottom of the ninth and it will live in the hearts of the Lee coaching staff, players and fans for years to come.
Crawford hit lead-off man Kevin Smith with an inside pitch. Brew immediately went to his bullpen and brought in closer Kris Hall. Hall issued walks to the next two LSUS batters. Brew once again went to the bullpen and this time called on Maxx Catapano.
“We had planned to use Maxx as a starter on Monday, but we also knew we could go with Curtis Camilli,” pointed out Brew. Michael Diffie battled Catapano through a series of pitches before delivering a key RBI single.
The trouble continued after two more walks were issued. Suddenly, the game was deadlocked at four. This time the Flames called on Matt Passauer to try to somehow end the Pilot uprising. Passauer was able to get a pair of outs before issuing a free pass that pushed across the crushing deciding run.
“We have dug ourselves a hole and now we have to find a way to fight back,” said Brew. “I know teams have done it before in this World Series and I think we have a club that can turn it around and make a strong showing.”
The loss before nearly 1,800 fans at Harris Field dropped the Flames to 47-13 on the year, while LSU-Shreveport improves to 46-13. While the Flames faced Faulkner early Saturday, the Pilots will rest until Monday and will test Concordia (Calif.), the club that sent Faulkner into the losers bracket earlier on Friday.