April 17, 2010
Rome, Ga. - Lee University's Michael Brown hit a pair of homers in game one and starter Scott Swinson tossed seven innings of three-hit baseball in the nightcap to lead the No. 6-ranked Flames to a Saturday sweep of host Shorter College, 5-4 and 8-1, respectively, in Southern States Athletic Conference action.
Lee, which improves to 38-10 overall and 13-5 in the SSAC, maintains its hold on first place in the league standings. The Hawks (22-26, 7-11 SSAC) are firmly entrenched in sixth place in the SSAC with one conference series remaining on their schedule.
The Flames had to rally late and overcome a strong pitching effort from Hawks' starter Brick Carter for a victory in the opener.
Shorter, inspired by the lively and sizeable crowd that turned out for Military Appreciation Day, jumped out to a 2-0 lead after four innings.
Clint Harkins put the Hawks on the board with an RBI single down the left field line for a 1-0 lead in the third and Matt Johnson, who went a perfect 3-for-3 in game one, followed with an RBI single down the right field line for the 2-0 edge in the fourth.
Brown answered with his first homer of game one, a rocket that cleared the left field fence, to pull Lee to within 2-1 in the top of the fifth and Edgar Molina hit a two-run single in the top of the sixth as the Flames rebounded to take a 3-2 lead.
But Shorter was up to the challenge, putting up a warrior-like effort while donning camouflaged uniforms in honor of our brave service men and women.
Shannon Houston ripped an RBI double to deep left center to knot the score at 3-3 in the Shorter half of the sixth and with two outs, Joseph Brooks belted an RBI double down the line in right field that plated Austin Roberts and reclaimed a 4-3 lead for the Hawks.
Carter, who went six strong innings in which he gave up six hits and struck out three, came out in the seventh to finish what he had started, but Brown came through for his Flames, taking a 1-2 Carter delivery over the left field fence for his second round tripper and a 4-4 tie.
A J.J. Constantino sacrifice fly later in the inning off of Matt Kirksey put Lee ahead 5-4 and Flames reliever Aaron Everett retired Shorter in order in the bottom of the seventh as Lee escaped with a victory.
In game two, Lee jumped on Shorter ace Tim Day to the tune of eight first inning tallies and then rode starter Swinson to a comfortable win.
Day, who had been brilliant in the Hawks' earlier victories against ranked conference foes Southern Polytechnic State and Brewton-Parker, couldn't find a rhythm against the Flames, walking two and giving up eight runs - only two were earned - in just 2/3 of an inning.
Lee sent 11 batters to the plate in its half of the first, scored its first two runs on a wild pitch and an error and got a two-out three-run homer from Constantino among its eight tallies in the frame.
Reliever Chad Hodges entered in favor of Day with two gone in the first and was masterful in relief.
In arguably his best outing of the year, the southpaw held the sizzling Flames offense scoreless on two hits over the final 6.1 innings while striking out four, only needing 79 pitches in an efficient outing and giving the Hawks a chance to hang around.
But ultimately, the Hawks were unable to solve Swinson, who notched a game-high six strikeouts and also posted an efficient total of 92 pitches. Shorter finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth courtesy of a Scott Morris RBI double, but that was the only run Swinson would yield to the hosts.
Joseph Brooks paced Shorter in game two by going 2-for-3 - he was one of only two Hawks to record a hit in the nightcap.
Shorter returns to the diamond on Tuesday, April 20 when it travels to Talladega College for a non-conference doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m.