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Bryce Stober
Hickory High grad Bryce Stober has six stolen bases already on the season.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Sweeps Doubleheader From Limestone

The Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Team won the final two games of its conference opening series against Limestone to clinch the series victory.

In the first game of the doubleheader, the Bears found themselves in trouble going into the home half of the sixth inning down 3-2. However, the LR offense came alive to produce a six-run frame to jump ahead of Limestone en route to its 10-4 victory.

Dillon Chapa also made it three starts and three wins to begin his LR career as the junior allowed only six hits and one earned run in his six innings of work.

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Bears once again were trailing by a single run before coming back with a four-run third inning. After the LR offense jumped out to a 5-2 lead through three innings, the Bears scored a run in each of the last three innings to defeat the Saints, 9-3.

The combined pitching effort from the Bears kept the Saints quiet throughout the series finale by striking out 11 batters. Kyle Murphy picked up his second victory of the season to remain perfect on the year while Kobie Cushing led all pitchers with four punchouts.

In game one,┬áCole Laskowski recorded the first triple of the season for the Bears. The redshirt junior connected for the three-bagger in the sixth inning to score Blake Bean and give LR the 7-3 lead. Khi Holiday had a multi-double performance for the Bears. The junior doubled in back-to-back innings with a 2-RBI hit in the sixth followed by a one-out knock in the seventh. Joining Holiday on the list of LR players to collect a double were Tyler McPeak, Owen Blackledge and Zach Evans. The five doubles recorded by LR were the most in a single game this season. Seven different LR players drove in a run during the first contest of the day. Holiday led all LR batters with two. Bryce Stober recorded another perfect 2-for-2 day on stolen bases. The senior is 6-for-6 to begin the 2024 season. Chapa notched a new season-high pitch count for the Bears with 102 pitches thrown. The Waller, Texas native’s previous season-high was 76 against Southern Wesleyan on Feb. 10. Kellen Gradisar was efficient on the mound in his four innings of relief. The freshman constructed his longest outing of the season and only needed 47 pitches to get through the 15 batters he faced.

Cole Stanford led all LR players with two RBIs. The redshirt junior drove in the two runs with back-to-back singles in the third and fourth innings. In addition to his team-high two RBIs, Stanford was also the lone LR player to record a multi-hit outing with his three-hit performance. After drawing only five walks in the first two games of the series, LR earned seven free passes in the final game of the weekend. Bean picked up his second double of the weekend to improve his team-high hit streak to eight. After dealing some damage in the first game of the doubleheader, Holiday led all LR players with three runs. The Tupelo, Miss. native did not record a hit, but was walked one time and was hit by a pitch in another at-bat. Limestone did not make its day any easier after committing three errors in the contest. In total, the Saints had six errors on the weekend while the Bears only committed three. Despite the Bears winning by six runs, there was the potential for more as LR left 10 runners stranded on the basepaths.

After taking two of the three games over the weekend, LR extends the all-time series lead over Limestone, 33-19. In the 24 meetings that have taken place between LR and Limestone in Hickory, the Bears have won 19 of them. As conference opponents, LR leads Limestone, 5-2 in their meetings. With the series victory over Limestone, it marks the fourth-straight season that the Bears have won their conference-opening series. The Bears have started off 2024 with three doubleheader sweeps. In 2023, LR had eight doubleheader sweeps.

The Bears are 9-2, 2-1 SAC. Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Team will continue its longest home stand of the regular season with a non-conference mid-week contest against Chowan on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs.