COLUMBUS, Ga. - Fifth-ranked Lee took advantage of a depleted Faulkner pitching staff, breaking open a scoreless tie in the middle innings and racing away with a 13-0 victory over the third-ranked Eagles here Monday night in the championship game of the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament at Golden Park.
Since being upset Friday night in the second round of the tournament by No. 20 Shorter, the Eagles had used a total of 14 pitchers in winning three games in the losers' bracket to earn a spot in the title game against the Flames, who entered the finale unbeaten in the double elimination event.
Faulkner starter Cory Hamilton held Lee scoreless through three innings, and it was Faulkner who had the opportunities to break on top, leaving runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings. In the bottom of the fourth, however, the Flames' Robert Reyes leadoff with a long homer to right, and it opened the floodgates for Lee. Three more hits in the inning accounted for two more runs, putting the Flames on top 3-0.
From there it got out of hand, as Faulkner head coach Patrick McCarthy did his best to find an answer on the mound, but the arms just weren't there for the Eagles. Three relievers had little luck, and with things slipping away, McCarthy opted to go with senior position players on the mound the final two innings.
Lee (50-8-1) followed up its three-run fourth with two runs in both the fifth and sixth, four more in the seventh, and added two additional runs in the eighth. The Flames had only one hit through three innings but caught fire from there, collecting 14 hits in their final five at-bats. The Eagles, meanwhile, after squandering scoring opportunities early, managed only three hits on the night.
Lee starter Jose Samayoa (7-0) went seven innings, allowing all three Faulkner hits en route to the victory. The junior righthander struck out seven, but also walked seven, leaving 10 Eagles stranded on the bases. Hamilton took the loss for the Eagles (48-11).
Faulkner now awaits the opening round pairings in the NAIA Championship tournament, which will be released Sunday night. The Eagles are expected to be a No. 1 seed at one of the opening round sites, which will be played May 11-14. The winners of the nine five-team opening round sites join host Lewis-Clark State for the NAIA World Series, which begins May 25 in Lewiston, Idaho.