West Florida Sweeps Lee in GSC Baseball
CLEVELAND, TN- (GoLeeFlames.com)- The University of West Florida turned back rallies by the Lee Flames in the sixth and eighth innings and walked away with a 2-1 victory on Sunday afternoon at Olympic Field to complete the three-game sweep of the Flames.
The Argonauts, ranked No. 3 in NCAA Division II play, improved to 25-5 overall and 17-3 against Gulf South Conference opponents. The Flames dropped to 21-13 and 9-9.
West Florida struck first in the fourth inning when Cliff Covington lifted a wind-blown drive down the right-field line that bounced off the foul pole for a home run. Lee tied the well-played contest at one in the bottom of the same inning when Zac Hawkins drilled a shot over the right-field wall.
The Argos went on top to stay in the sixth. Aaron Haag singled and moved to second on a walk to Kaleb Barlow. Austin Southall's ground ball was fielded by Andres Nelo who flipped to second for a force on Barlow. Shortstop Josh Silver realized he could not turn the double play with a throw to first, so instead tried to nail Haag at third. However, the throw to Cameron Scott was low and rolled far enough down the third base line, allowing Haag to score what turned out to be the winning run.
The Flames threatened to tie or take the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Siosi Poti singled and reached second on an error by the Argo's centerfielder. Pitts lined-out hard to center and Hawkins singled to put runners on first and third. Nelo laced a line drive up the middle that was snared by shortstop Jeremy Bajdaun. He quickly flipped the baseball to second-baseman Chase Kiefer to turn the double play and end the Lee scoring threat.
The Flames threatened again in the eighth when Jordan Stewart reached on an error and Silver followed with a single. Poti put down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with only one out. However, the West Florida pitching took over again. Pitts went down on strikes and Hawkins drilled a solid liner to center that was pulled down by the perfectly placed Sean Plunkett.
"This weekend, It was good to see the level that we will need to play at to be considered one of the top programs in NCAA Division II," noted Brew. "We have a midweek game against Tennessee Temple on Tuesday, but then we will see another elite NCAA Division II program when we travel to Delta State next weekend. It's another good measuring stick of where we currently are and where we need to go."
Pitts (2-1) started and worked 5 2/3 innings for the Flames. The lefty allowed five hits, one earned run, walked four and struck out four. Bailey entered the contest in the sixth and gave the Flames a chance to win by hurling 3 1/3 innings and giving up just one hit. The lefty struck out five and did not walk a batter.
West Florida got another good effort out of starter Dayan Rodriguez (4-0). In seven innings, he allowed six hits, one earned run, had two strikeouts and did not give up a walk. Matt Vollweider pitched one inning and worked himself out of a jam. Alex Stevens got his eighth save when he pitched the final inning.
Hawkins swung the bat well the entire series and finished with a home run and a single. Silver, Poti, Pitts, Nelo and Nathan Wierzgac also contributed to the Flames seven-hit attack. Garrett Flynn was the only Argo with two hits.
"I'm proud of the way our guys competed today," pointed out Brew. "We had our chances to win but West Florida simply made the pitches and also executed just a little better than we did. "