Baseball

Amidst a year of ups and downs, Lee University baseball (16-14) is catching fire at the right time in the season. The Flames won five of their last six games and completed a series sweep of Auburn Montgomery (11-16) this weekend to continue their stretch of wins.

An all-around sturdy performance from nearly the entire roster showed the Flames have depth—offensively and defensively. It could serve to take them far when the postseason comes around in early May.

The first game didn't have too many offensive highlights, with only twelve hits between both teams throughout the entire contest. However, the combined effort of starting pitcher Wes Albert, senior, and reliever Logan Workman, freshman, gave the Flames the 3-2 edge. Workman pitched with a lead the last two innings and said he had to keep his cool to secure the six outs needed to finish the game.

“I was constantly told that everyone could hit the fastball,” Workman said. “I had to make sure that I could control all of my pitches. That was my whole mindset going into the game: throw it hard and get out of the inning.”

The combination of Workman's pitching control and the consistent support from his teammates boosted the Flames' momentum into the next game.

“We all look out for each other,” Workman said. “We make sure we’re all doing good and holding each other accountable. We’re one big family.” 

The bats came alive for the Flames in game two, as offense and defense propelled them over the Warhawks with ease by a score of 9-3. Two huge back-to-back innings gave the Flames four runs each. It proved to be too much for AUM to overcome.

Over the course of the season, freshman third basemen Justen Freeman has been a main source of offense the Flames rely on. This weekend was no different as the Knoxville, TN, native went 2/4 overall in the series.

“It’s a unique role to be a part of contributing at such a young age. It’s always been a dream of mine to play college baseball,” Freeman said. “We want to keep executing at a high level offensively and defensively in hopes of continuing this winning streak.”

Head coach Mark Brew’s team rolled into Saturday with a great amount of confidence. In terms of offensive efficiency, game three was similar to the first game, as opposed to the second. All it took was a three-run second inning to push the Flames over the top and complete the series sweep. 

The Flames had a whopping 12 hits during their series finale, and senior Jordan Howard delivered a double to left-center field that drove in two of the team’s three runs. Howard said his job was to not get too excited and deliver runs when it mattered most.

“In that particular situation, I’m just trying to get a ball in play,” Howard said. “I’m just thinking, ‘Stay in my legs, stay in my swing, stay in myself, take the ball the other way and hit it as hard as I can.’”

The sweep against AUM gives Lee baseball five of their last six conference wins, dating back to a 2-1 series win against the Union Bulldogs. Despite the momentum, Howard said work still remains before moving forward as the Flames prepare for more conference play against Valdosta State.

“It’s huge for us to get this sweep,” Howard said. “It’s been an up and down season for us, and this is a big turnaround for us—especially going into our next conference series against Valdosta State. It’s good to get a confidence booster like that.”

With nearly a month left of the Flames' regular season, many conference rivals stand between Coach Brew’s team and the playoffs, but team unity and their current winning streak have potential to create big opportunities moving forward. As the Flames continue to develop together as a team, Brew said he suspects Lee baseball is set to progress from this strong weekend.

“It’s big to have momentum,” Brew said. “It’s exciting to see the guys play well. If we continue to do the things that we did this weekend, I think we’ll have a good result.”

Sports Editor -- Lee Clarion

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