CLEVELAND, Tenn. (Lee) -- Pitching continues to be the name of the game in the early going for the unbeaten Lee baseball team. Five hurlers combined to allow visiting Shawnee State (Ohio) only four hits as the Flames swept a doubleheader on a cool Friday afternoon at Olympic Field.
The 7-0 Flames recorded their fourth straight shutout and the pitchers have allowed only four runs during the seven game winning streak. Only two of the four runs have been earned.
Kris Hall (2-0) made short work of the Ohio club in the opening game. The junior right-hander struck out 12 and allowed only a bunt single and one other hit. He walked one and threw 93 pitches before giving way to senior Joe Fabre in the seventh inning. Fabre walked one and struck out two, while pitching hitless ball.
"Our pitching was excellent once again," said coach Mark Brew. "(Kris) Hall and (Patrick) Merkling did an excellent job and the bullpen was solid. Defensively, we continue to do a great job as well."
Lee opened the scoring in the bottom of the third when Chris Avey reached on a bunt single. Blake Barber followed with a single to right. Avey streaked for third and the throw from the Shawnee right-fielder went into the dugout allowing the speedy Avey to score.
The Flames struck for another single run in the fourth. Corey Davis was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Moore. He scored on an RBI single by Roberto Duran. Another solo run pushed the lead to 3-0 in the fifth. Brady Renner singled and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Barber. The Flames put the contest out of reach with a pair of insurance runs in the sixth. Taylor Comford collected an RBI single. Renner knocked in the other run with a sacrifice fly.
Barber and Comford had two hits apiece in the win. Edmanuel Rivera also picked up one of Lee's nine hits. Cody Morrison and Ryan Burnett had the only two hits for the losers. Austin Dunfee went all the way and was charged with the defeat for Shawnee State. He had five strikeouts and walked a pair.
In the nightcap, the Flames pounded out nine hits but had trouble pushing the runners across the plate. Patrick Merkling pitched five innings of no-hit ball to claim his second win of the year. The lefty struck out eight and walked four. Matt Passauer hurled the sixth and gave up one of Shawnee State's two hits. He fanned one batter. Vince Spilker came on to close the deal in the top of the seventh.
Spilker made the play of the day in the top of the seventh. Burnett sent a soft liner back to the mound. Spilker grabbed the baseball with his bear hand and then tossed to first-baseman Roberto Reyes to double-off a surprised Quentin Everman. Spilker's effort also helped him pick up his first save of the year.
The Flames broke open the scoreless battle in the bottom of the third. Jorge Saez, who had two hits on the day, reached on a base on balls. Renner was hit by a pitch and Moore picked up an RBI with a single to left. The only other tally of the game came in the bottom of the sixth. Duran reached on an error. Avey, in a pinch-hit role, was hit by a pitch. Rivera followed with a bunt single and a sacrifice fly by Trevor Burgess scored James Fowlkes who was pinch running for Duran.
Barber, Rivera and Saez paced the Lee hitting attack with two knocks apiece. Davis also singled. Shawnee State's hits came off the bat of Colin Keim and Everman. Former Flame, Alex Taku, started for the losers. He surrendered seven hits and one earned run in 4 1/3 innings. Jordan Williams hurled the final 1 2/3 innings.
"Offensively, we are making some strides," added Brew. "I thought we did an excellent job with situational hitting today and Barber (.619) is off to a tremendous start. We need to do a better job with our hitting approach when we have two strikes."
The Flames return to action on Saturday and will host the Bears in another nine inning game scheduled for a 12:30 start.
"Saturday appears to be a much different day," noted Brew. "The weather will be extremely bitter and we are going to have to bring some mental toughness to the field. Shawnee State is a good team and we will have to be ready to play."
Information provided by Lee University Sports Information and GoLeeFlames.com.