published Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Tennessee Wesleyan wins, Lee University falls in NAIA

KINGSPORT, Tenn. -- Top-seeded and sixth-ranked Tennessee Wesleyan beat third-seeded Indiana Tech 11-5 in their NAIA Opening Round baseball series Friday, sending the Bulldogs (47-11) into the series title game today at 2:30 p.m. for a spot in the World Series at Lewiston, Idaho. If TWC loses, a second final will be played Sunday at 11 a.m. TWC had won 3-0 over St. Francis (Ill.) on Thursday, with Corey Rhoney allowing four hits in seven innings and Corey Collins registering his fourth save of the season. Drew Levi's two-out, two-run double in the fourth inning broke the scoreless tie. Stephen Branca and Thomas Sicking each was 2-for-3 and leadoff batter Travis Burnside was 2-for-4 for TWC in that game. Friday, Branca was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs, Burnside was 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run, Sickling was 3-for-5 with two runs, Anthony Boix was 2-for-3 with three runs and two RBIs, Drew Levi was 2-for-4 and Jordan Guida and Taylor Oldham each drove in two runs. Oldham, a senior transfer from Covenant College, came into the tournament as the NAIA leader with 78 RBIs, and Branca was No. 1 in runs with 75. Josh Culler (9-2), who came in with a 2.52 season ERA and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings, was the winning pitcher Friday with nine strikeouts and two runs allowed in six innings. Indiana Tech is 40-21.

• CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Top-seeded Lee University fell 5-4 to third seed Missouri Baptist in the winners-bracket final Friday of the NAIA Opening Round baseball series being hosted by nationally second-ranked Lee. The Flames play today at 2 p.m. in the losers-bracket final against another Missouri school, Avila, and the winner will meet Missouri Baptist (39-14) at 6 for a trip to Idaho. Lee would have to win a second final Monday afternoon to continue its streak of World Series appearances. The favored Flames (51-9-1) got only four hits Friday off David Williams (5-0) and Ben Dorman (third save) but led 3-0 after two innings -- Blake Barber being hit by a pitch, stealing second and scoring on a wild throw in the first and Trevor Burgess hit by a pitch and Edmanuel Rivera doubling him in and scoring on a Cameron Brewster single in the second. Lee starting pitcher Patrick Merkling (8-2) struck out seven and allowed five runs, but two were unearned. After Missouri Baptist scored two in the third, Lee went up 4-2 on Roberto Reyes' sacrifice fly in the fifth but fell behind in the seventh on Scott Krutel's two-out, three-run double off relief pitcher Joe Fabre after singles off Merkling by Yeriel Nieves, Patrick Johnson and Ryan Barban. Krutel was 2-for-4 with four RBIs and Barban was 4-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Johnson was 2-for-4 and scored twice.

Auto Racing

• The annual Southern All-Star Tennessee Memorial race tonight at Cleveland Speedway will include a benefit for 11-year-old Haley Brooks, whose parents both work at the track on race nights. Haley herself hopes to present the trophy to the SAS race winner. She has a very rare disease called diamond black fan anemia -- her body cannot produce red blood cells -- and is awaiting a bone marrow transplant with a projected hospital stay of at least three to four months.

Swimming

• CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After finishing third in the 800-meter long-course freestyle race Thursday, Hixson resident Sean Ryan from the Scenic City Aquatic Club and McCallie School was 32nd in the preliminaries Friday in the 200 freestyle at the Charlotte Ultraswim, a USA Swimming Grand Prix event. Ricky Berens and Michael Phelps were first and second in the 200. In the 800, Chad Le Tourette won in 7 minutes, 58.91 seconds, and Ryan's University of Michigan teammate Connor Jaeger was second in 8:00.81. Ryan's 8:07.43 was way ahead of the fourth-place 8:20.84. He is entered in the 400 free today and the 1500 free Sunday. He will participate in the U.S. Olympic trials in late June.

Softball

• TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Seventh-ranked Florida edged No. 5 Tennessee 2-1 on Bailey Castro's eighth-inning pinch-hit home run in the Southeastern Conference softball tournament semifinals Friday. That ended a 19-game win streak for the Lady Vols (46-10), who scored in the first inning. They await their NCAA regional grouping in Sunday's selection show on ESPNU. Sami Fagan was 4-for-4 with the first run for Florida (46-10).

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