Lee pitchers Dustin Lawson and Kyle Briner combined to hurl three-hit baseball in a 3-1 Sunday victory over the University of West Georgia that went right down to the wire.
Lawson toed the rubber for seven innings and allowed just two hits. He gave up an earned run, while striking out two and walking two West Georgia hitters. Briner came on in the eighth and surrendered one hit. He fanned a pair and did not walk a batter.
“I want to single out the performance of Dustin,” pointed out coach Mark Brew. “He has not thrown well over the last two weeks and this was a huge bounce-back performance for him personally. I thought he did a great job.” The Lee coach went on to say that Briner “was up to the task, finishing up out of the bullpen. Our pitching has been lights out all season.”
Brew also praised the work of his defense in a contest that could have gone either way with a miscue to two, but the Flames played errorless baseball. “Defensively, we were once again awesome. We had several big double plays early (2) with (Josh) Silver and (Andres) Nelo.”
The battle was scoreless through the first three innings. The Wolves broke the scoring ice in the fourth when Shaquille Jackson singled. He stole second and later scored on a single by Harrison Waller. That was all the offense the visitors could muster against the stingy pitching and superb defense.
The Flames tied the contest in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs and a 2-2 count on Cameron Brewster. The left-handed hitter tripled to left-center field. He scored on an RBI fly-out by Derrick Pitts.
“The big triple by Cameron helped us gain more confidence in our dugout,” noted Brew.
The contest remained deadlocked until the bottom of the eighth. Brewster started the winning rally with a walk. Pitts followed with a solid single to right. West Georgia went to the bullpen for the first time and reliever Colton Duttweller walked Josh Tate to load the bases. The Wolves went to the bullpen again and called on Clint Beland.
Nelo became the man of the hour when he ripped a double to right-center field that scored Zacary Hawkins and put the Flames up for good at 3-1.
“Nelo’s two-strike, two-out double was huge,” commented Brew, “but we had a lot of heroes in that inning that got us to that point. These are the types of dogfights we will be in all year in this conference. It is too good of a league to expect to sweep every series. Winning two of three is usually a big accomplishment. We just have to continue to improve as we move forward.”
Lee outhit West Georgia 9-3. “Though we only scored three runs, it was one of our better performances offensively this season,” the coach acknowledged. We had a lot of hard outs and I thought we swung the bats extremely well on the day against tough pitching.”
Siosi Poti was a perfect 3-of-3 at the dish and Hawkins chipped in with his seventh double of the year to go along with the triple by Brewster. Nelo’s two-base hit was his sixth of the campaign.
A. Khadkhodian doubled for the Wolves’ only other hit of the contest. Jamie Sexton was the starting and losing pitcher for West Georgia. He hurled 7 1/3 innings and surrendered eight of Lee’s nine hits. He also walked two and struck out two.
Tuesday’s nonconference game with Campbellsville is slated for a 6 p.m. start and Wednesday’s single game against the Tigers will begin at 3 p.m. Lee returns to conference action Saturday and Sunday and will be challenged by West Alabama in a three-game Gulf South series at Olympic Field.