The action will be hot on the playing field, but fans can cool off as they witness two of the NAIA’s best tangle on Wednesday at 6 p.m., when Lee hosts Cumberland University on Mayfield Dairy (free) Ice Cream day at Olympic Field.
Cumberland joins only Union University and Tennessee Wesleyan as opponents holding a winning record against the Flames (teams Lee has faced 25 times or more). The Bulldogs defeated the Flames in the championship game of the 2010 NAIA World Series and hold an 23-11 edge in the overall series.
Heading into today’s meeting, Cumberland is 25-13-1 and ranked 15th in the latest NAIA. The Bulldogs dropped two of three games at Tennessee Wesleyan over the weekend. The Flames were ranked No. 1 in the first NAIA regular-season poll. Coach Mark Brew’s team stands at 30-7 and has won seven of its last eight outings.
Coach Woody Hunt is in his 32nd year of directing the powerful Bulldog program. His clubs have registered a remarkable 1,362 wins and lost only 565 times. Cumberland has claimed a pair of NAIA World Series titles.
Lee won last year’s meeting in Lebanon by a 6-3 margin. Coach Brew will send right-hander Keegan Yuhl to the mound. He holds a 2-0 record and a 2.48 ERA. Yuhl has worked in 32.2 innings and recorded 30 strikeouts, compared to 12 walks.
The Flames have picked up the hitting pace in recent games and are being led by the “S&S Boys” (Josh Silver and Mark Silva). Silver is currently hitting .385 and Silva is right behind at .374. The pair also gives the Flames one of the NAIA’s top double play combinations from their shortstop and second base positions.
Brandon Rader has been consistent for the Flames. Since breaking into the everyday lineup, he’s hitting a solid .370. Opponents have pitched around catcher Danny Canela (a transfer from North Carolina State) a great deal, but he’s still managed to hit .361 with 28 RBIs, three homers and 10 doubles.
Corey Davis regained his hitting stroke in the recent Loyola series and is hitting .322 with a team-leading 33 RBIs, three home runs, three triples and six doubles. Derrick Pitts is the club’s home run leader (5). He’s also knocked in 30 runs as the Flames have outscored their opponents, 276-82.
After today’s single nine-inning game, the Flames will host Talladega College in a three-game nonconference series on Friday and Saturday. Lee will host Military Day on Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m.