Baseball team prepares for weekend

Junior Josh Cyr slides into home plate during a game against Quincy earlier this season.

The UNA Lions are going on the road this weekend against Tennessee Wesleyan (25-5) March 24 for one nine-inning game starting at 2 p.m.

UNA (21-7, 6-3) remains tied for the leader in the Gulf South Conference after the series win against West Georgia (13-9,5-3) this past weekend. Tennessee Wesleyan, a member of the NAIA, will host the Lions, and UNA coach Mike Keehn said he hopes the team can continue its stride.

“We don’t have a lot of details about them, but we know they have a very small ballpark,” Keehn said. “(Tennessee Wesleyan) got a lot of homeruns, so we know that their offense is going to be good, and it’s hard to decide if their pitching is OK because you’re in a hitters’ ballpark. We are starting to see more offense, and you don’t want to lose that rhythm.”

Going into the game against Tennessee Wesleyan, there will not be any change in the lineup even with just the one game on the weekend.

The question now is whether Johnny Hornbuckle, Michael Watkins and Chad Boughner will be the pitcher of the three weekend starters.

“We are going to leave it up to coach (Matt) Hancock, and I imagine it will probably be both Watkins and Hornbuckle,” Keehn said. “Hopefully, you want to get them some work in, split that game up with what our normal is, and on Tuesday go with Boughner against Martin Methodist.”

On the weekend series against West Georgia, Hornbuckle (4-3) got the loss with a score of 5-2 while pitching eight innings and giving up five earned runs on just five hits. The offense was able to get seven hits but left 12 runners on base. UNA rebounded in game two with Watkins (5-0) getting the win with a score of 7-2 behind four RBIs from Josh Cyr.

To cap off the series, Boughner came one strike away from a perfect game, as the Lions went on to win the series off a two-hit shutout of 12-0.

“The pitching performance against West Florida was really good in throwing a shutout against a good team, and to come back and top it against West Georgia to almost witness history was really disappointing, but really how well he pitched was one of those things,” Keehn said. “I have been around no-hitters, but I don’t think I can recall a perfect game where a batter doesn’t even reach a base.”

After the weekend game, the Lions will remain road warriors for the next two opponents, with a game against Martin Methodist March 27 at 4 p.m. and a weekend series with the co-leader in the conference Valdosta St.