Thomasville Times Enterprise

May 8, 2014

Lee talks TU’s early exit at conference tournament

Daniel Kramer
Times-Enterprise

THOMASVILLE —

Thomas University’s topsy-turvy baseball season ended on a sour note with a pair of blowout losses in last weekend’s Sun Conference Tournament. 

The Night Hawks fell 12-0 in mercy rule fashion to St. Thomas on Friday – a team it ousted in a pair of doubleheader wins the weekend prior – and 7-1 to top-ranked Embry Riddle on Saturday.

TU coach Mike Lee spoke with the Times-Enterprise on Thursday in his first interview since the pair of defeats.

“We just didn’t match up,” he said. “Our starting pitching wasn’t as good as it has been; the defense was nothing special. And our hitting didn’t make the trip with us.”

Lee attributed TU’s offensive woes to the stout pitching the Night Hawks faced, including Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year Eddie Cody of St. Thomas. Cody, who allowed four TU runs on 12 hits the weekend prior, nearly no-hit the Night Hawks in the first round on Friday. 

Embry Riddle’s Daniel Poncedeleon, member of the first team All-Conference, presented  TU problems by allowing just one unearned run while throwing nine strikeouts.

TU also accounted for five errors during their two games last weekend, which capped their season total at 92. Lee said that bolstering the defense will be a primary focus during the offseason.

“Some of it is personnel, some of it is needing to work a little bit harder and differently,” Lee said. “What we did this year has worked in the past, but that wasn’t the case this time around.”

Perhaps the most taxing carry-over the Night Hawks will endure this summer is attrition.

TU will have to fill the gaping void left by its five departing seniors – left fielder Chris Kitlas, right fielder  and team RBI leader Trey Griffin, catcher and team MVP Andrew Crane, No. 1 starting pitcher Kurt Gens and ace reliever John Gainey – all of whom either started or played a significant role.

“They’re going to be tough to replace,” Lee said. “All of those guys have been very important to the success we had this year.”

The Night Hawks finished third in the conference standing and qualified for the postseason tournament for the first time since joining the league two years ago.

“Any time you raise the bar like we did, you feel good as you head into the offseason,” Lee said. “We’ve got our first conference tournament trip under our belt, and know what it’ll take to get back. We’ll look at that and build our team around that.”