Lions lose 8-6, Record falls to 30-10
DAYTON, Tenn. – On Tuesday, 10th-ranked Bryan College baseball came up short in a rematch with Mid-South Conference challenger Cumberland University (Tenn.) 8-6 after falling to the visiting Phoenix at the end of February in a shootout at their place in Lebanon, Tenn. Cumberland worked through a total of six pitchers that combined for just six hits surrendered to Bryan, while the Lions dealt four hurlers that allowed the Phoenix 11 hits. While Brad Smith recorded the win on the mound for Cumberland, Dalton Ross picked up the loss for Bryan to move his record to 3-2 this season. Despite the brief setback, the Lions still own an impressive 30-10 overall record. The Phoenix, who are currently receiving votes in the latest NAIA Coaches’ Top-25 poll, improved to 28-11 overall.
After two scoreless innings to begin the contest, Cumberland was the first to answer in the third inning as they pieced together a pair of runs. The rally was sparked by a leadoff single followed by a wild pitch that allowed the runner to reach second. The next batter was walked, putting runners on first and second with no outs. The Phoenix got on the board with an RBI single that also put a runner in scoring position at third. Another run came in off a fielder’s choice, putting Cumberland on top 2-0.
Bryan countered in the bottom of the frame to snag their first and only lead of the day. Shaq Bermudez reached on walk and then turned base running duties over to the speedy Prentice Young. P. Young didn’t spend too much time on the base before being driven in for run number one when a pitch shot off Trevor Behrent’s bat for the RBI double. Wade Weinburger, the next Lion at the plate, sent the first ball coming his way over the fence in dead center. His two-run shot marked his 13th this season and provided Bryan with a 3-2 edge.
The runs continued to be added on as the fourth got underway, starting with two more for the Phoenix. A single, error, and hit by pitch loaded the bases with two outs. A single was enough to score both runs, as Cumberland battled back in front 4-3. Rodney Tennie scored the equalizer in the bottom of the fourth inning by singling, advancing to second on David Scoggins’ fly out, stealing third, and reaching home on a sacrifice fly registered by Bermudez to make the score 4-4
Two more quiet stanzas passed before the Phoenix completed a game-deciding swing in the top of the seventh. A leadoff homer set the tone of the frame before a hit by pitch, single, and a balk scored the second run of the rally. The mishap was costly, but what came next would be the deciding factor as a two-run line drive jack over the left-field fence gave Cumberland a comfortable four-run cushion, 8-4.
Neither side got on the board in the eighth, leaving just the ninth and final frame for Bryan to respond. Brandon Marklund, the Lion’s go-to closer, silenced the Phoenix in the top of the inning. Although the first Bryan batter struck out, the Lions were determined for a comeback and kept the energy alive. Jacob Justice singled up the middle on pitch number one before making his way to second when Fernando Garcia was walked. Another single, this time Lake Burris, loaded the bases with just a lone out. Tennie managed to reach base on a misplayed grounder, scoring Justice and keeping the bases loaded. The second out came via strikeout. Bryan then looked to pinch hitter Cody Young who turned in a quality at-bat, with patience giving way to a walk that scored Garcia from third. The valiant last-ditch effort by the Lions wasn’t enough to capture a win or force extras as one final strikeout brought an end to the game with the Phoenix prevailing 8-6.
Miguel Lopez started on the mound for Bryan, completing six innings with five hits and four runs, just two earned, tallied with four walks and seven strikeouts. Ross relieved for one frame, allowing a trio of hits and four runs while tossing three K’s. Joseph Cuomo handled one inning and had a clean slate besides two hits. Marklund had just one hit and strikeout in the last inning.
Behrent was Bryan’s hits leader, going 2-for-5 with one double, one run scored, and one run batted in. Weinburger, Justice, Burris, and Tennie recorded one hit apiece, while Weinburger had a team-best two RBI to go along with his homerun. Tennie, C. Young, and Bermudez were also awarded an RBI, respectively. Tennie swiped all three of the Lion’s stolen bases.
Bryan will follow their non-conference matchup with Cumberland by jumping back into Appalachian Athletic Conference play over the weekend, Apr. 13-14, with a three-game series versus the Bulldogs of Union College (Ky.). The trip to Barbourville, Ky. presents a single game on Friday at 2pm with a doubleheader on Saturday scheduled to start at 12pm.