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Lee Remains Unbeaten

May 29, 2012
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By Bert Sahlberg, World Series Media/Sports Information Assistant Coordinator

LEWISTON, Idaho - (Box Score) Three Lee (Tenn.) pitchers combined on a four-hitter and the Flames took advantage of Oklahoma City errors early to capture a 7-3 win in Game 12 of the Avista-NAIA World Series at Harris Field on Monday night.

The victory by the second-seeded Flames, 56-9-1 overall, guaranteed that both Tennessee schools in the 10-team double-elimination tournament finish with trophies. Tennessee-Wesleyan is the other undefeated team left in the tournament and along with Lee is guaranteed no worse than a fourth-place finish.

Oklahoma City, the No. 3 seed, hurt itself with four errors in the contest to fall to 48-11 overall. Three errors came in the first three innings when Lee jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the battle of perennial powers.

Lee pitchers Patrick Merkling, Joe Fabre and Jose Samayoa combined to quiet OCU's big bats as well. The Stars entered the Series hitting .352 on the season and averaging better than eight runs a game. Merkling pitched the first seven innings and allowed three runs, but only one was earned. He gave up three hits and three walks, but struck out seven. Fabre allowed one hit in the eighth, while Samayoa pitched a perfect ninth.

Lee took advantage of OCU's sloppy play with two runs in the first inning. Jorge Saez reached on a fielding error and Blake Barber followed with a one-out single. Roberto Reyes bounced into a fielder's choice to force Barber out at second. Corey Davis then singled in the first run, while a dropped fly ball by center fielder Cody Ferrell allowed a second run in.

Lee added three more in the second when a walk to Edmanuel Rivera and a single by Brady Renner put runners on the corner. Saez then hit a potential double-play grounder to shortstop, but the second baseman's relay throw to first sailed into the Lee dugout to allow a run to score and Saez to reach second. Barber and Reyes then hit back-to-back RBI singles for a 5-0 lead.

The Flames kept rolling with a solo run in the third. Mike Moore started the inning with a double and then scored on a two-out double by Rivera.

OCU got on the board in the fourth with the help of a Lee error. Miguel Beltran started the inning with a single and Dane Phillips reached on a fielding error. A one-out walk loaded the bases and set up a sacrifice fly RBI by Kale Gaden. A ground ball by Rich Hawkins drove in the second run.

OCU picked up another run in the sixth to cut the lead to 6-3. Gaden started the rally when he was hit by a pitch and he later scored on a single to left by Hawkins.

The Flames picked up their final run in the top of the eighth on sacrifice RBI bunt by Rivera.

Barber led Lee's 10-hit attack with three hits, while Moore added two along with two runs. Rivera finished with two RBI. Hawkins had two RBI for OCU.

Lee and Tennessee Wesleyan will meet in Tuesday's feature game at 6:30 p.m. with the winner being the only undefeated team remaining. Oklahoma City falls into the loser's bracket where it will take on top seed LSU Shreveport at 3 p.m.