LEWISTON, Idaho - (Box Score) Junior right-hander Corey Rhoney allowed five hits through eight innings and every starter in the No. 4 Tennessee Wesleyan lineup either had a base hit or an RBI as the fourth-seeded Bulldogs rolled to a 13-3 win over second-seeded Lee (Tenn.) in the winner's bracket at the Avista-NAIA World Series at Harris Field on Tuesday night.
The win left Tennessee Wesleyan (51-11) as the only undefeated team left in the 10-team double-elimination tournament and guaranteed the Bulldogs no worse than a third-place finish. Lee (56-10-1) is one of three teams remaining with one loss and will have to win three straight games in order to claim the title.
The two Tennessee teams, both looking for their first Series title, met three times during the regular season with Lee claiming two victories. On Tuesday, however, the Bulldogs handed Lee easily its worst loss of the season. Of Lee's nine regular-season losses, six were by one run and another was by two.
Outside of a two-run fifth inning for Lee, Rhoney kept the Flames extinguished at the plate with his solid outing. Improving to 10-0 on the season, Rhoney struck out four and walked six. He retired nine straight batters in the second through fifth innings and then retired seven straight after his shaky fifth inning.
The Bulldogs' bats, meanwhile kept up their torrid pace in the Series. Entering the game with a .363 Series batting average (the only team above .300), the Bulldogs pounded out 13 hits and added two more home runs to bring their Series' total to eight. This came against a Lee pitching staff that had allowed only 10 hits and four earned runs in its first two games.
Tennessee Wesleyan wasted little time in jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a two-run double by Dale Ricketts. A sacrifice fly RBI by Drew Levi and a two-run single by Thomas Sicking made it 5-0 in the fourth.
The Bulldogs then made it 9-0 in the fifth when Jordan Guida ripped a three-run home run and Taylor Oldham's grounder produced a run.
Lee finally broke through in the fifth when Rhoney issued a pair of walks to set up an RBI single by Trevor Burgess and an RBI double by Brady Renner.
The Bulldogs, however, rallied back with three runs in the top of the sixth for a 12-2 advantage. Stephen Branca drove in the first run with an RBI single, while Jake Stone drove in another on a grounder. Taylor Oldham picked up his first RBI with a double.
The Bulldogs added another run in the eight when Branca hit a solo home run, his 18th of the season. Lee managed to score a run in the ninth.
Guida finished 2-for-3 with three RBI and three runs scored. Branca went 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Rickets and Sicking also drove in two runs apiece.
Both teams will be back in action on Wednesday. Lee will face No. 9 Rogers State (Okla.) in loser-out play at 3 p.m., while Tennessee Wesleyan will take on top-seed LSU Shreveport (La.) at 6:30 p.m.