In one of the best days for baseball of the early season, Lee failed to turn in one of its better performances.
Visiting Campbellsville University put eight runs on the board in the first three innings and then held off a late rally by the Flames. The end result was a 9-5 defeat that drops Lee to 12-6.
“First of all, give Campbellsville credit,” said coach Mark Brew. “They played much better than we did today. It’s difficult to overcome when you spot a team eight runs in the first three innings.”
The Flames jumped on top 2-0 in the first inning. Josh Silver doubled to right. Andres Nelo drove home Silver with a single and scored on a triple by Derrick Pitts.
The Tigers bounced back to tie the game in the second, scoring two runs on two hits. Alex Kline provided the big knock, a double to center.
Campbellsville went ahead to stay in the top of the third when it scored six runs on six hits against Lee’s starter and losing pitcher, CJ Lusted. Jeremy Bales came on to cool the hot bats of the Tigers and hurled 3 1/3 innings of two-hit ball. The Flames sent three other pitchers to the mound. Grayson Bailey hurled one inning and gave up a hit and a run, while Rob Gustitus and Derrick Pitts commanded the strike zone and did not allow a hit.
“Our bullpen did a good job allowing us to try to climb back into the game, but we couldn’t do anything in the middle innings with our offense,” explained Brew. “Defensively, it was our worst effort of the year. It didn’t show in the box score, but we missed several cutoffs from the outfield that allowed runners to advance and we also let them out of a rundown situation where the runner ended up scoring later in the inning.”
After being shut out by Campbellsville’s starting pitcher Chris Tuma for six of the eight innings he worked, the Flames finally rallied against Tuma and TR Dunne for three runs in the ninth inning, but it was too little too late.
Brew went to his bench in the ninth and Seth Gower immediately ripped a double down the left-field line. Pinch hitter Nathan Wierzgac followed with a single and Cameron Scott picked up an RBI with a one-base knock. Silver registered his second double of the afternoon and plated two runners. The final run scored on a sacrifice fly by Zac Hawkins.
Lee actually outhit the Tigers 11-10 but Tuma, who picked up his first win of the season, scattered 10 hits and Dunne gave up the other. Silver finished with three hits. Nelo added a pair, while Siosi Poti chipped in with a double. The Tigers were led by Alex Scanlan and Jacob Russell. Russell doubled, scored twice and drove in two runs.
“We will have to continue to improve in several areas,” Brew remarked. “Our team has a small margin for errors right now. West Alabama is going to bring one of the top teams in the conference to our field this weekend and we will definitely have to play much better.”
The first pitch for Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will be broadcast over 101.3 FM and audio streamed around the world.