CLEVELAND, Tenn. (LEE) -- The Lee University baseball team was handed its first loss of the season in a 9-3 decision against visiting Union College (Ky.) on Monday.
The Flames also had their streak of 42 consecutive scoreless innings broken in the loss.
Sloppy defense plagued the Flames, as four errors led to six unearned runs for the visiting Bulldogs. The errors, coupled with 12 runners left on base for the Flames, proved to be the difference in the contest.
"Obviously, when you struggle defensively against a quality opponent like Union, it's tough to overcome," said Lee head coach Mark Brew. "Add to that some mental errors and the results (six unearned runs) speak for themselves."
Lee began the scoring in the bottom of the second inning, as Roberto Duran scored from third on a groundout by Edmanuel Rivera. The big blow came for Union in the fifth inning, as three Lee errors led to four unearned runs off reliever James Rechenbach.
Another error in the sixth allowed another two runs to score, running the score to 6-1. The Flames got a single run in the sixth, as Roberto Reyes scored on a Rivera single to left. Union added insurance with a pair of runs in the eighth and a single run in the ninth. Lee scratched one more run, an RBI double by Brady Renner in the eighth, and the game ended with the six-run loss.
Vince Spilker started on the hill for the Flames, tossing four shutout innings, while scattering five hits. The junior right-hander struck out three and walked one. Rechenbach (0-1) worked 1 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and the six unearned runs.
Sophomore Dustin Lawson and freshman Kyle Briner worked the final 3 1/3 innings, combining to allow three runs, all earned, on five hits.
Offensively, the Flames were able to stroke eight hits, with Chris Avey leading the way at 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base. Renner and Reyes each added a double, with Jorge Saez drilling a triple and walking twice. Rivera and Blake Barber each added one hit.
"We actually swung the bats better today," added Brew. "But we are struggling to get big hits with runners in scoring position."
Union knocked out 14 hits in the win, getting three-hit performances by Clay Ragland and Joe Engle. Engle added three runs batted in, with Ragland adding two RBI and two runs scored. Brandon Hedrick started and worked four innings, allowing one run on two hits.
Travis Kottenbrock (1-0) was credited with the win after 1 2/3 innings, giving up a single run on three hits. Chris Fern came on to work 3 1/3 innings to earn the long save.
Lee falls to 8-1 on the season, with 12th-ranked Union earning the win in their first contest on the year. The Flames will take to the road for the first time in 2012, making the short trip to Athens, Tenn., to take on old rival-Tennessee Wesleyan College, Wednesday at 2 p.m. The Lee squad will then open conference play, traveling to Emmanuel College for a three-game series, Friday and Saturday.
"It's still early, but we have little time to wait with big games against (Tennessee Wesleyan), Wednesday, and our conference opener this weekend at Emmanuel," Brew said.
Information provided by Lee University Media Relations and GoLeeFlames.com.