Cameron Brewster and Andres Nelo blasted three-run homers and Lee used eight different pitchers in an 8-4 victory over Bryan College at Olympic Field on Wednesday evening.
The win improves the Flames’ overall record to 26-17 and Bryan drops to 26-20. Lee will head for Valdosta State for an important three-game Gulf South Conference series beginning on Friday and closing with a doubleheader on Saturday.
The Flames jumped out to a 5-0 lead after three innings but the determined Lions were not about to return to Dayton without putting up a fight. They battled back with two runs in the fifth and cut the margin to 5-3 in the sixth inning before the Flames could close the deal.
Lee went up 3-0 in the second inning. Blake Ray reached on an error. Josh Silver walked and Brewster drilled a three-run shot over the right-field wall. In the third, Siosi Poti walked and stole second and third. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Derrick Pitts. Zac Hawkins stroked a two-out single and Ray reached on a walk and Silver made it a 5-0 count with an RBI one-base hit.
Bryan rallied in the fifth and sent eight men to the plate. Kelvin McMiller led off the frame with a single and Joey Underwood reached on an error. Kevin Roberts drove home a run with a hit and Underwood scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Latham. The Lions tacked on a single run in the sixth as Crandon Wallace had a base hit and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Underwood to cut the margin to 5-3.
The Flames took control in the bottom of the same inning. Brewster walked, and with two outs, Poti laced a single. Nelo collected three RBIs with his second home run of the year, over the right-field fence.
Bryan mounted another comeback attempt in the eighth. Wallace drilled a triple into the gap in left-center. Justin Morhardt drew a walk and McMiller made it an 8-4 game with his one-base hit. After Underwood hit into a fielder’s choice, coach Mark Brew quickly went to his bullpen and called on ace reliever Jeremy Bales. Bales induced a ground ball to third that turned into a double play and killed any comeback hopes by the Lions. Derrick Pitts came on to pitch and recorded three outs in the ninth.
The Flames made the best of seven hits and eight key walks by six Bryan pitchers. Each team was guilty of two errors. The losing Lions also had seven hits. Brewster was the only Flame with two hits. He also scored a pair of runs as did Poti.
Dustin Lawson started for Lee and worked the first three innings. He struck out four and walked one. “It was Dustin’s best effort over the past couple of weeks,” said Brew. “We hope he can use this outing to build on his confidence.”
Rob Gustitus, CJ Lusted, Grayson Bailey, Carlos Ditren and Zac Hawkins joined two other Flame pitchers in the three-hour battle. Ditren (3-1) was credited with the victory. In one inning of mound duty, the right-hander struck out all three Lion batters he faced. “It was also good to see Carlos have a good outing,” pointed out Brew. “We are running a little short on pitchers and I really didn’t want to use Bales tonight, but we needed his help in the eighth.”
Kyle Paulson (1-1) hurled three innings for the losers. He allowed four earned runs, walked three and struck out one and was charged with the pitching defeat.
“We’ve got a chance to move up in the GSC standings this weekend,” noted Brew. “Our goal is to go to Valdosta and take 2-of-3 games in the series. If we can accomplish that, then we can return home, enjoy Easter Sunday with our families and get ready for the final conference series with Christian Brothers.