Note: Rain moved back into the Mason, Ohio, area just before the Flames were scheduled to play Lancaster College in Wednesday’s second game of the NCCAA World Series, forcing pool play to be delayed. With even more heavy rain predicted until late Wednesday night, the NCCAA says play was scheduled to begin again today at 10 a.m.
MASON, Ohio — Lee’s first appearance in the 2014 NCCAA World Series can be labeled as simply disappointing. Toccoa Falls (Ga.) broke open a scoreless tie with three runs in the sixth inning, then added three insurance runs in the eighth to hand the Flames a 6-1 defeat in the opening round of pool play Wednesday morning.
Lee (33-18) will take a brief break and return to action at 7 this evening to face Lancaster College (Pa.). The second game was originally scheduled for a 4 p.m. start but rain in the Ohio Valley moved the game time back.
Lee Freshman pitcher Rob Gustitus held the Eagles at bay over the first five innings. In fact, the Flames’ righty had retired 10 consecutive Toccoa Falls hitters until he walked a batter with two outs in the sixth.
Jordan Couillard followed with a double off the left-field wall to put runners at second and third. “This is where I really became disappointed with our team,” said coach Mark Brew. “We followed the double with three walks and a hit batter to allow them to plate three runs.”
After the two-base hit, Gustitus walked Will Patrick to load the bases. Brew went to his bullpen and called on lefty Grayson Bailey, who hit the first batter he faced then surrendered a walk to force in the second run of the disastrous frame. Brew returned to the mound and called on ace hurler Jeremy Bales, who immediately surrendered a free pass to push the third run across the dish.
“My hat is off to Toccoa Falls (34-16) and especially to their pitcher (Dylan Charles),” explained Brew. “The lefty kept our hitters off balance the entire day, and we kept trying to pull his pitches. We will try to bounce back and see what we are made of against a Lancaster team that we know absolutely nothing about.”
The Eagles salted the victory away with four of their eight hits in the eighth inning. The big blow was a double by Michael Sneed.
The Flames managed only three hits against Charles and mounted their only serious scoring threat in the fourth inning. Zac Hawkins singled, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Blake Ray followed with a walk, but Nate Wierzgac’s sharply hit ground ball to third baseman Tyler Sellar was quickly converted into a double play and seemed to kill any momentum Lee could muster.
Siosi Poti singled in the fifth and Zack Zyburt had a one-base hit in the third to join Hawkins with the Lee’s only hits.
The Flames scored their only run in the ninth, when Pitts was hit by a pitch, went to second on a balk and tallied when Wierzgac’s ground ball was booted by the third baseman.
Gustitus (2-1) was charged with the pitching defeat. Charles (11-4) earned the well-deserved pitching win. He fanned five Lee hitters and issued only two walks.