FOREST CITY, N.C. - Junior ace Logan Sawyer (Knoxville, Tenn.) spun a masterful complete-game gem, and the third-seeded Lincoln Memorial University Railsplitters tacked on four runs in the eighth inning to careen to a 7-2 victory over the fourth-seeded Newberry Wolves in the opening round of the 2014 Food Lion SAC Baseball Championship on Thursday at McNair Field in Forest City, North Carolina. The Railsplitters (27-15-1) advance to the winner's bracket, where second-seeded Wingate awaits. Lincoln Memorial and Wingate are set to clash at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Right-hander Logan Sawyer found himself in some early trouble as Jermale Paige reached on an error in the first at-bat of the contest, while Albert Baur singled two batters later to put runners on first and third with an out in the first frame. Ryan Cranmer drove the first run in with a single through the left side and JoJo Bradley walked to load the bases. But, Sawyer settled in, fanning Eric Barbieri and Mitchell Griffin to end the threat.
After surrendering two hits and a run in the first frame, Sawyer worked into a groove, allowing only five hits and one run the rest of the way. The Knoxville, Tennessee native went the distance, striking out a career-high 10 batters to improve to 7-4 on the season. Sawyer is the second-straight pitcher for the Railsplitters to toss a complete game in the opening round of the SAC Championship as Brandon Cowan did so during LMU's 2013 title run.
LMU provided plenty of run support to back Sawyer's outing, scoring a run in each of the first three odd-numbered innings. Junior Jonathan Lowe (Sidney, Ohio) had a hand in each of those runs, scoring Scott Miller (Knoxville, Tenn.) with a single in the first and then scoring Miller again on a double in the third. It was Kelvin Brito (Yabucoa, Puerto Rico) who plated Lowe in the bottom of the fifth with a double into right center.
The Wolves trimmed LMU's lead back to 3-2 in the top of the seventh as Griffin led off with a single and scored on an RBI-groundout by Paige. But, the Railsplitters exploded for four runs in the bottom of the eighth, effectively putting the game out of reach with the confident Sawyer on the mound. Lowe, Brito and Josh Coker (Murphy, N.C.) singled in consecutive at-bats to lead off the inning, putting a run on the board, while Colin Buckner (Harrodsburg, Ky.) accounted for another run with an RBI-fielder's choice. A wild pitched allowed Coker to score, while Ryan Burlison (Romeoville, Ill.) drew a bases-loaded walk to extend the lead to 7-2.
Sawyer issued a leadoff walk to Griffin, but he fanned two of the next three batters before dusting off his complete game by inducing a groundout.
The Railsplitters outhit the Wolves, 12-7, and Lowe led the charge with a 4-for-5 outing that included two RBI and two runs scored. Kyle Floyd (Windsor, Ill.), Miller and Brito each added two hits apiece for the Railsplitters, who have now won five of their last six SAC Championship contests.