May 1, 2010
Columbus, Ga. - Top-seeded Lee University got seven RBI combined from J.J. Constantino and Junior Rodriguez en route to a 17-5 victory over No. 6-seed Shorter College in the day's second elimination game in the 2010 Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament at Golden Park in Columbus, Ga.
The Flames, ranked No. 4 in the latest NAIA Top 25 Coaches Poll, improves to 44-11 overall and advances into Sunday's action as one of four teams remaining in the field.
Shorter, which was making its first appearance in the SSAC Tournament since 2007, bows out of the tournament with a 24-32 overall record.
Lee, thanks in large part to Constantino, broke open a 1-1 game with three runs in the second - all with two outs. Constantino ripped a triple off the wall in left that plated a pair of runs and then scored on a passed ball for a 4-1 Flames' advantage after two. Constantino finished 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBI.
Seth Walker and Trey Burstrom added RBI singles in the third to put Lee ahead 6-1 and the Flames never looked back. After falling in a 15 inning affair to No. 4-seed Brewton-Parker College on Friday night that wiped out several of its top pitchers, Lee rode the back of Matthew Gilson, who tossed a complete game in which he scattered 10 hits and struck out 11 Hawks.
Shorter crawled to within 7-2 on a Matt Johnson RBI single in the top of the fifth and, although it appeared to be on the verge of making a push on several occasions, simply could not capitalize on the opportunities.
Shorter placed runners on first and third with two out in the fifth, but Gilson recorded a strike out to end the threat.
The Hawks put a run across in the top of the seventh and had runners on first and second with no outs in the frame, but Gilson forced Johnson to ground into a double play and Shannon Houston rolled out to second to conclude the inning.
Meanwhile, the Flames found their groove at the dish and Rodriguez essentially dashed Shorter's hopes with one swing in the sixth.
After Lee had worked the bases loaded with two outs, Rodriguez belted a bases-clearing double to right center, putting the Flames up 11-2. Rodriguez closed out his day going 3-for-5 with four RBI and one run scored.
The Hawks, who pounded out 10 hits themselves, got several strong offensive performances in the loss.
Johnson went 3-for-5 with an RBI and Clint Harkins was 3-for-5 with an RBI double.