The Lions baseball team (28-25) came up short against top-seeded Vanguard (39-16) 11-9 in a thriller that ended the Lions season in the NAIA Opening Round on Wednesday, May 19.
Lions jumped out early in the bottom of the first inning when Josh Sears hit his 21st home run of the season.
After scoreless frames in the second and third innings, Vanguard was able to score two runs to take a 2-1 lead. The Lions followed it with two runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth to retake the lead 3-2.
Dylan Lott led the inning off with a home run, followed by a fielder’s choice that led to Hunter Beecham scoring.
Vanguard wouldn’t go away, though scoring one run in the top of the sixth inning to tie it, but Freed-Hardeman answered with three runs in the bottom half to take a 6-3 lead. With two outs, Dom Pisano hit a double down the right-field line that found the corner, followed by walks drawn by Lott and Beecham.
With the bases loaded, Riley Perks hit a two-run, pinch-hit double to make it a 5-3 game. Zach Sanders then brought in Beecham with a single to make it 6-3 with just three innings remaining.
Vanguard stayed persistent, though, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game, a run in the top of the eighth to take a 7-6 lead, and then four runs in the top of the ninth to make it 11-6. The game was all but over, though, because the Lions were able to load the bases with just one out, thanks to a walk by Will McCall, a single by Sears and a walk by Von Watson.
With the bases loaded and just one away, Pisano hit a single to shallow right-center field to bring in McCall and pinch-runner DeJhard Kimbrough to make it a three-run game. Lott then came to the plate and hit a single, which plated Watson, making the score 11-9. Vanguard would bear down, though, and get the final two outs of the game and advance to the Montgomery Bracket final.