Lions Devour Rams 26-3 Over Two Days
DAYTON, Tenn. – Both 11th-ranked Bryan College and Bluefield College (Va.) entered the Thursday and Friday Appalachian Athletic Conference series ranking No. 1 and 2 in the conference in nearly every hitting category, but after three games it was the Lions who proved to be the top squad in the AAC. Over the two-day span, Bryan amassed 26 runs while Bluefield could only scrape away three. In a battle of high-powered offenses, Bryan rose to the occasion and never looked back. The tone was set when the Lions routed the Rams 10-0 on Thursday, before they went on to top the visiting team 5-1 and 11-2 on Friday. Bryan improved to 20-3 overall and 6-0 in conference play while dropping Bluefield’s overall record to 9-7 and AAC record to 0-6.
Reigning AAC Pitcher of the Week, Stephen Chamblee, prevented the Rams from making any sort of charge in the opening clash as he hurled his way to his third game this season with at least 13 strikeouts, ending with a total of 13 K’s, one walk, no runs, and just four hits. He’s a perfect 5-0 with a 2.77 ERA. Dalton Ross polished through the final inning with a clean slate and one strikeout.
Bryan outhit Bluefield 17-4 with six Lions turning in a multi-hit performance. The duo of Lake Burris and Cody Young led Bryan in the hit’s column with three apiece. Young matched Fernando Garcia with a team-best three RBI’s as Garcia went 2-for-4 with a homerun and double. Garcia’s two runs scored were the most on the team. Rodney Tennie, Trevor Behrent, and Jacob Justice each registered two hits, respectively. They each scored a run while Justice also chipped in a run batted in. Wade Weinburger, David Scoggins, and Tyler Scott got in on the action with one hit apiece. Other Lions to notch homeruns were Burris and Young, while Behrent tallied the team’s other double. Both Tennie and Scott swiped a stolen base.
Bryan’s scoring was broken down into three separate innings, beginning in the bottom of the first. Tennie led off with a single, stole second, took scoring position at third on Weinburger’s fly out, and then took an easy stroll home when Garcia clobbered homerun number six this season on a 1-1 count to put the Lions out in front 2-0.
The two-run difference lasted through the next four innings before Bryan extended their lead in the sixth. The rally started with three straight singles from Behrent, Scoggins, and Justice. Justice’s RBI single scored Behrent for a 3-0 edge. Next up was Young who blasted his second homerun this season to clear the bases and tack on three more runs, bringing the score to 6-0. The Rams decided to make a pitching change, but the damage didn’t stop there. Scott singled and then advanced to second on a stolen base. Tennie grounded out, but it allowed Scott to go to third. With a Weinburger single, Scott pushed the advantage to 7-0 as he crossed home plate. Weinburger wasn’t base-running long as Garcia connected for an RBI double. Burris posted the eighth hit of the inning as he drove in Garcia to cap the run, making it a 9-run ballgame.
Burris took it into his own hands to seal the game in the bottom of the eighth frame as he sent a solo shot over the fence on the first pitch thrown his way, as the Lions won via run-rule 10-0 over the Rams.
Game two of the series, the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, was headed by another dominating performance from a Lion pitcher as Luke Henderson collected his sixth win of the season, which is the most of any Bryan pitcher so far. He oversaw eight innings with just five hits and one run surrendered to Bluefield. He walked none and retired five from strikeouts. Henderson owns a 2.79 ERA this season. Henderson was relieved by closer Jesus Astudillo who dealt a scoreless ninth to the Rams that brought an end to the contest. Through 6.1 innings on the mound this year, Astudillo has allowed only five hits and no runs with zero walks and nine K’s.
Bluefield saw the same start that Bryan had before, as the Lions used no hesitation to snag a quick 2-0 advantage in the first once again. Tennie was walked, stole second, and then Weinburger was walked, which put two runners on with no outs. Next up was Garcia who reached base on an error by the short stop that loaded the bases. Even though Burris grounded out on the following play, it was enough to score Tennie to put the Lions on the board. The second run came when Weinburger scored on Behrent’s sacrifice fly to right field, helping Bryan gain a 2-0 lead.
The next run, which occurred in the third, came with one swing of Weinburger’s bat as he let the count build to 2-2 before sailing a solo bomb over the left field fence. The final two runs for Bryan happened during the sixth when Behrent belted homerun number three this year, growing the difference to 4-0, before Damon Haskett, who entered as a pinch runner, worked his way around the bases and finished by stealing home for the Lion’s fifth run.
The Rams finally captured their first run against Bryan after 15 total innings of play (after coming up empty in Thursday’s game) when Joshua Magee hit a leadoff jack in the top of the eighth to avoid the blanking as the Lions went on to win 5-1.
In the last game of the series, the Lions ended in similar fashion as they performed on Thursday, and put on a show for the fans at Senter Field with 13 hits, 11 runs scored, four doubles, and four homers. Garcia knocked a team-high three hits with three RBI’s, two runs scored, one double, and one homerun. Tennie, Weinburger, Tucker Cain, and Young each had two hits apiece. Young and Weinburger tied Garcia with three RBI’s, respectively, for the team-high. Weinburger’s three runs scored were the most out of any Lion. Cain doubled on both of his hits, Young registered both a double and homer, and Weinburger homered. Both Burris and Behrent had one hit apiece, and both were for extra bases as Burris had a bomb and Behrent ripped a double.
The first five innings were handled by Arinson Martinez who gave up three hits, one run, walked five, and struck out six. Martinez was awarded the win, improving to 3-0. Brandon Marklund threw the last two innings with a notable four K’s, one walk, and both one hit and run allowed.
A leadoff single, an advancement on a bunt, and another single helped the Rams grab their only lead of the entire series in the top of the first as they were out in front 1-0. The advantage was short lived as the Lions went on the attack in the bottom of the frame for the equalizer. Weinburger faced a 2-2 count and came away with a single, and then he showed his speed by scoring when Garcia smacked a double, leveling the score at 1’s.
In the second inning, Bryan earned an edge that wouldn’t be lost for the rest of the game and did so when Cain and Young pieced together back-to-back doubles that scored Cain for the 2-1 lead.
Cain and Young worked together in the fourth inning for another run for the Lions as Cain doubled, advanced to third in a wild pitch, and then sprinted home on Young’s sacrifice fly smoked to center field.
The 3-1 lead moved to 5-1 when Bryan tacked on two more insurance runs in the fifth. Weinburger battled a full count and came away victorious with a free pass to first. The walk was significant as Garcia trailed with a two-run homerun.
If the Rams had any hope left, the Lions eliminated it in the bottom of the sixth with a six-spot that started with Young going the distance in solo style. The next three runs also scored with a long shot that was towered over the fence by Weinburger. Garcia kept the rally going with a single, and Burris put the finishing touches on the win with a two-run homer launched to left field. A walk, single, and error set up Bluefield for their final run of the game, which came in the top of the seventh as the Lions triumphed 11-2.
Bryan will take a pause from AAC play with a pair of non-conference matchups this upcoming week. The Lions play host to 2nd-ranked Georgia Gwinnett College on Tuesday, Mar. 13 at 3pm and follow it up the next day with a showdown versus Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.) at home beginning at 3pm.