Sat, Apr. 21, 2012 - [Baseball]
HENDERSON, Tenn. - For the 14 seniors on the Freed-Hardeman Lions' baseball roster, the final home games of their careers could not have been more special.
The No. 21 Lions swept Lyon (Ark.) College, 6-2 and 10-1, to clinch the TranSouth Conference regular season championship.
It is the first regular season title for Freed-Hardeman (35-17, 15-6) since 1997, when that year's Lions won a school-record 44 games.
FHU entered the weekend needing a three-game sweep to secure the championship heading into next weekend's series with longtime conference powerhouse Cumberland (Tenn.) University. After Friday's game was postponed and finished Saturday morning with a 15-5 win, the Lions needed two more wins to reach their magic number.
The Lions fell behind early in the first game as the Scots got runs in the first and second innings off of Roberto Ferguson. But Ferguson (8-0) settled down and allowed only two hits the rest of the way, opening the door for the FHU offense to do its job.
It did in the fourth inning. After scoring runs in the first and third innings to tie the game, the Lions scored three times in the fourth on RBI hits by Jake Todd and Kyle Dearing. Dearing, who tripled, then came in to score on a passed ball to give FHU a 5-2 lead.
Jesse Hykes added to that lead in the fifth with a solo home run, his eighth of the season.
In the finale, senior Hunter Newby (5-5) flirted with perfection by retiring the first 14 batters he faced before giving up a double to Colby Rogers with two outs in the fifth. He finished the game with a three-hitter, allowing a lone run in the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly.
Fellow senior Evan Mansell also capped his time at Carnes Field in a way that will be remembered. He hit a two-run home run on a full count in the third inning, then hit a three-run shot in the fifth. The two blasts gave him 10 home runs on the season and 22 for his career, moving him into fifth all-time at FHU.
The Lions also got RBI singles from Robert Prieto and Ben Ihde.
The conference tournament begins on April 30 at Fesmire Field at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., where FHU will be the No. 1 seed.