The surging Lee baseball team exploded for four runs in the first inning and then tacked on four more scores in the fourth in coasting to a convincing 11-4 victory over visiting Trevecca Nazarene at Olympic Field on a near-perfect Wednesday afternoon.
The impressive victory over the 31-11 Trojans set the tone for this weekend’s Gulf South Conference series with Christian Brothers University. Saturday will be Military Appreciation Day at Olympic Field and the Flames will honor veterans from the local area and also raise funds for some 600 disabled veterans in the region.
“The good start in the first inning really helped us against a good Trevecca team,” said coach Mark Brew after his Flames improved to 27-17 on the year and ran their winning streak to four straight. “I think we caught Trevecca kind of sleep-walking into this one. Like ourselves, we’ve both have big conference series this weekend.”
Speedsters Siosi Poti and Andres Nelo helped get the Flames off to the fast start in the first frame. Poti walked and Nelo was hit by a pitch. Derrick Pitts followed with a RBI single and Zac Hawkins collected the first of four runs he batted in during the nine-inning affair. Blake Ray ripped a RBI double and Josh Silver’s ground out pushed Ray across with the final run of the inning.
In the meantime, Dustin Lawson was performing well in his second consecutive outing. The junior right-hander pitched four innings, allowing just two hits, striking out three and issuing one walk. “Before the last two starts, we’ve told Dustin to go to the mound thinking he was going to pitch only three or four innings,” noted Brew. “I think this has allowed him to be aggressive and pitch with a lot more confidence.”
The Flames continued to build on the lead with four more runs in the fourth. They sent eight men to the plate. Cameron Brewster, who was 2-of-2 on the day with two runs scored, started the rally with a single. He scored on the first of two hits by Nate Wierzgac. The catcher also collected a RBI on the play and later scored. Poti drew his second walk of the afternoon and Nelo followed with his second single. Hawkins cleared the bases with a ringing double to the wall in right-center.
“Zac had a tremendous day at the plate and the entire team swung the bats better than we have in most games,” added Brew. “I just hope we can build on this momentum and carry it into the series with Christian Brothers this weekend. We’ve got a chance to finish 15-12 in the conference and an outside shot at placing fourth in this very strong league.”
The lead grew to 10-0 in the fifth. Silver walked and Brewster drilled his second straight hit. Wierzgac followed with a RBI single and Poti plated Brewster with another one-base knock. Lee’s final run came in the sixth and increased the lead to 11-0. The red-hot Hawkins singled and scored on a double by Seth Gower.
The Trojans avoided the mercy rule by scoring two runs in the seventh inning and closing the gap to 11-2. Luke Fennell had a double and Patrick Reed drove home two tallies with a one-base knock. Trevecca scored two more runs in the ninth. Ethan Hurt singled and scored on Nick Howell’s long triple to left-center. He tallied the game’s final run on a single by Tyler Tichenor.
All totaled, the Flames pounded out 14 hits and played errorless ball in the field. Freshman Rob Gustitus pitched one inning and got credit for his first victory of the year. Grayson Bailey joined Gustitus in pitching a scoreless inning, while Carlos Ditren allowed two hits and two earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. CJ Lusted came on to give Lee 1 1/3 innings of one-hit ball. Jeremy Bales worked the ninth and for the first time in many, many appearances, allowed three hits and two earned runs while striking out three.
Ryan Shultz was the starting and losing hurler for Trevecca. All totaled, the Nashville club used five hurlers in the losing effort.