Friday morning at 11 a.m. the Bisons will open the Caravelle Resort Classic hosted by Coastal Carolina against Illinois. The Bisons are 4-8 and Illinois is 1-5.
Illinois plans to start right-hander Will Strack, 1-0 and a 3.27 earned run average. The Bisons are expected to start senior right-hander Josh Smith, 1-1, 3.00 ERA.
This will be the first time Illinois and Lipscomb have played each other in baseball.
The Bisons will play Michigan, 4-7 heading into the tournament, Saturday at 11 a.m. This will also be the first time the Bisons have played Michigan in baseball.
Michigan has two possible starters, right-hander Tyler Burgoon (2-1, 7.71 ERA) or lefty Bobby Brosnahan (0-1, 6.23). The Bisons have scheduled left-hander Alex Ross (1-0, 3.38) to start his second game of the season.
Saturday at 4 p.m. the Bisons will close out the tournament against Ball State. This will be the second game all-time between Bisons and Ball State. Ball State holds a 1-0 edge, having beaten the Bisons 1-0 Feb. 23, 2007.
Sophomore right-hander Davey Hackett, 1-1, 5.29 ERA, is slated to start for the Bisons.
Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand knows his Bisons are going to be facing major challenges.
“That’s why we signed up for it,” Forehand said. “It never gets any easier whether it is Youngstown State, Vanderbilt or Illinois. “I haven’t had a chance to dive into the stats of what those teams have done. They are big schools from big conferences.
"I remember Michigan coming to Nashville and taking Vanderbilt’s regional away from them. We are trying to get ourselves prepared for the conference.”
The Bisons offense has started to wake up with double figures in hits in their last three games and in four of their last six. In the other two games they had nine.
“We have a lot to learn,” Forehand said. “We preach and preach our scheme. It is not about stepping in and trying to hit the ball as hard as you can. That’s not what we are trying to get them to do.
“We want to be able to play the short game a little bit. We want to allow our base stealers to steal and run bases.”
JUCO transfer Zach Messer has emerged as one of the biggest run producers, batting third in the lineup. He leads the team in RBI with nine and is tied for the lead in doubles with four. He also has one triple.
Forehand expected Messer to be a run producer, but he wants the junior to be more patient at the plate in order to get hits that will allow lead-off hitter Tyler Wilson and No. 2 batter M.L. Williams to use their base running skills.
“Zach has to learn how to be a little more patient,” Forehand said. “If he is going to hit third right behind those runners he is going to have to be patient and allow them to steal a base.
“He might have to hit down in the count sometimes. He can produce a lot of runs with runners in scoring position.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations