HICKORY, N.C. – The Lions' baseball team defeated Lenoir-Rhyne in a double-header Saturday afternoon at Bears Field to complete the three-game South Atlantic Conference sweep. Mars Hill improved to 26-19 overall and 12-9 in the league. The Bears fell to an even 21-21 on the season, 6-14 in the SAC. In the L-R series, Hunter Merrill hit .545 against the Bears with six runs scored, a double and a triple while Daniel Vitello hit .500 with two doubles and five runs scored. Matt Honeycutt and Gray McCurry added six RBI and four hits apiece on the weekend.
Game 1: MHU 10, L-R 4
Gray McCurry went 3-5 with a double and five RBI to pace the Lions at the plate. Vitello followed, also going 3-5 with three runs scored and a double. Honeycutt added two hits, a double and four RBI. Zac Brown picked up his fifth win (5-3) on the mound throwing eight innings scattering seven hits and allowing just three earned runs. He struck out seven batters.
Zach Jacobs and David Newcomer led the Bears at the plate with two hits and an RBI apiece. Landon Whitson took the loss (2-4) for L-R on the mound.
In the Lions' first at-bat, Vitello doubled to right-center field before Honeycutt doubled to left field to send him to the plate. Gray McCurry then singled to right field to drive in Brett Brubaker and Honeycutt and give Mars Hill an early 3-0 lead. In the bottom half of the first inning, Zack Shoemaker hit a sacrifice fly to left field to drive in Jacobs and cut the Bears deficit to 3-1.
Jacobs singled to right-center field in the bottom of the second inning to send Justin Lara home and the Lions held only a single run lead (3-2). Honeycutt hit a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Vitello and extend the Lions' lead to 4-2. Vitello began the at-bat with a single up the middle and then a single by Brubaker sent him to third base to setup the score.
Newcomer doubled to left-center field in the fifth frame to drive in Alex Reynolds and bring the Bears back within one run (4-3) of the Lions. The Lions answered in the seventh inning scoring three runs to take a 7-3 lead. Honeycutt singled to plate Merrill and then Gray McCurry doubled down the left field line to drive in Honeycutt and Brubaker.
The Lions added three insurance runs in the eighth inning on the same number of hits to enjoy a 10-3 advantage. Merrill crossed the plate on a wild pitch before Honeycutt sent Vitello home again on another sacrifice fly. Gray McCurry singled up the middle to drive in Brubaker for the at-bats third score. Brown gave up an unearned run in the bottom half of the eighth inning to make the final tally 10-4 in favor of the Lions.
Game 2: MHU 4, L-R 3
Brubaker went 1-2 with a homerun and three RBI to lead the Lions offensively in the nightcap. Vitello had a hit and an RBI while Merrill posted two hits in the win. Caleb Edwards threw a complete game allowing just seven hits and three runs to earn his second win (2-0) of the season.
Tripp Hamrick and Fred Wadsworth led the bears with a hit and an RBI each. John Curtis suffered the loss (2-3) pitching 1.1 innings in relief for the Bears.
In the first inning, Brubaker hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Merrill from third and give Mars Hill a 1-0 lead. An RBI double by Wadsworth and a RBI single from Hamrick gave the Bears a 2-1 advantage at the completion of the second inning. After Shoemaker scored on a wild pitch in the third frame, the Bears led 3-1.
The Lions took the lead back for good in the fifth stanza after Vitello doubled to left field to score Merrill and then Brubaker hit a two-run homerun to left-center field to account for the game winning run. Brubaker's homerun brought Vitello around.
Mars Hill will host Montreat in a non-conference game on Tuesday, April 18. First pitch at Henderson Field is set for 3 p.m.