COLUMBUS, Ga. — The long awaited baseball battle between No. 2 Faulkner and No. 3 Lee University didn’t take place in the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament as heavy rains washed out Saturday’s championship game.
Crowned co-SSAC champions, the two league rivals will both serve as host teams for the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round tournaments beginning Thursday.
Lee will host four other teams in a three-day event at Olympic Field beginning Thursday.
Faulkner will do the same in Montgomery, Ala. Another SSAC member, William Carey University will also host an opening roun event in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Wrapping up a sweep of three pool play games, the Flames (46-10) collected 16 hits and blasted a pair of gigantic home runs in an 11-5 victory over William Carey on Friday evening. Over the past two games, Lee has banged out 30 hits and scored 21 runs.
Friday's hit parade was paced by Corey Davis, who finished a sparkling performance with four hits, including a three-run homer and four runs batted in.
The Lee slugger had plenty of company as Brandon Rader stroked three hits, scored twice and knocked in one run. Derrick Pitts ripped a long home run in the first inning to help jump start the Lee offense. Danny Canela and Karsten Strieby each banged out a double and a single. Strieby scored three times and posted two RBI. Brady Renner had a pair of hits and scored twice.
The Flames put four runs on the board in the first inning, thanks to the Pitts homer, the doubles by Canela and Strieby, and an RBI single by Davis.
The margin reached 5-0 in the fourth when the Flames played a little small ball. Rader walked, went to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third by a sacrifice bunt by Cameron Brewster. He scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Mark Silva.
The Crusaders fought back in the fifth inning and cut the lead to 5-4 but Lee tallied single runs in the sixth and seventh and scored four more times in the eighth to put the contest far out of reach. The highlight of the eighth was a three-run bomb off the bat of Davis.
For the first time in two weeks, Jose Samayoa took the mound for the Flames. He hurled 4 2/3 innings of three-hit ball before having some control issues and allowing a two-run double by Scott Fabre. Coach Mark Brew quickly went to his bullpen and Kyle Briner, David Eskew, Keegan Yuhl and Andy Hillis sealed the deal. The four relievers did not allow William Carey a hit. Briner was the winning pitcher.
"I was pleased to see Samayoa throw well tonight," said Brew. "He was feeling so good, he might have been over-throwing at times and did not have good command of his breaking ball, but I feel he is ready to jump back in and help us in the opening round of the national tournament next week."
Brew had hoped the rain would hold off and his club would be able to face Faulkner on Saturday. "We didn't play during the regular season and I believe this is two teams that have a shot at going deep in national tournament play."