Lee comes from behind to take series from UWA baseball

Published 10:07 am Monday, March 10, 2014

Nathan Wierzgac came off the Lee bench to get three hits as the Flames came from behind to defeat West Alabama, 9-8, in Gulf South Conference college baseball action Sunday at Olympic Park.

Lee won the weekend series with the victory and improved to 14-7 overall, 7-5 in the GSC. West Alabama lost its second GSC road series, dropping to 14-7 and 6-6.

After splitting with Lee on Saturday, West Alabama came out of the gate swinging on Sunday, taking a 7-2 lead after four innings, thanks mainly to home runs by Mitch Holgate and Tanner Rainey in a four-run fourth. Holgate’s long ball was his third and Tanner’s, a three-run job, his first.

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“We did what we needed to do early on by being aggressive at the plate and putting some runs on the board,” UWA head coach Gary Rundles said. “Then we got complacent, made some mistakes and they took advantage of them like good teams do.

“You don’t win games in four or five innings. You have to play nine,” Rundles said. “I hope we come out of this a better team because of what happened today.”

Holgate opened the game with a double and scored on a Tyler Richburg single, but Lee answered in the bottom of the frame when Wierzgac singled in Josh Silver. A freshman, Wierzgac entered the game in the top of the first when Lee’s everyday catcher Josh Tate injured a knee. He had just two at bats coming in.

UWA used three walks, a hit batter and a Lee error to score two runs in the third before the power explosion in the fourth inning. The Tigers would score just once more when Joel Murphy singled in Trey Williamon, who had doubled with two outs in the sixth. Williamon had a pair of doubles for UWA.

Lee began its comeback when Silver hit his first home run of the year, a two-run shot in the fifth. A pair of singles and sacrifice flies by Blake Ray and Silver gave Lee two runs in the sixth to cut the UWA lead to 8-6.

The Flames took the lead for good in the seventh when Ray singled in Wierzgac and Siosi Poti. Zacary Hawkins scored the first run of the seventh on a ground ball to second base by Seth Gower.

Derrick Pitts (1-0) picked up the win in relief for Lee, allowing a run, scattering three hits and striking out five in five innings. Matt Betts (2-1) absorbed the UWA loss in relief. Betts allowed three runs and two hits in 1.2 innings pitched.

Holgate and Williamon each had a pair of hits in a nine-hit Tiger attack. Silver had two hits to follow Wierzgac.

West Alabama remains on the road, traveling to Selma on Wednesday. The Tigers return to GSC play by hosting Valdosta State in a doubleheader Saturday.