The Bisons took both games on Saturday against the Illinois State Redbirds to earn their first series sweep of the season.
Sophomore right-hander Davey Hackett received the start in game one at Dugan Field at Stephen Lee Marsh Stadium. Hackett pitched seven complete innings, giving up one earned run as the Bisons took an 8-1 decision. With the doubleheader sweep, Lipscomb improved to 10-18 on the year while Illinois State dropped to 12-13.
Bisons head coach Jeff Forehand said Hackett gave the team a confidence boost going into Saturday’s double-header.
“We hadn’t been able to find what’s going to make Saturday click,” Forehand said. “He was able to give us a good lift. He gave us the lift and the confidence that we could go into Saturday with a little bit of momentum and I think that was huge on the weekend.”
Bisons junior right-handed pitcher Chad Fromm came in to close things out for the Bisons in the final two innings. Fromm did not give up a hit and struck out two batters.
The second of the two games on Saturday was not as easy for the Bisons. After three innings, Lipscomb jumped out to a 7-2 start. However, the Bisons watched the Redbirds score five unanswered runs over the next three innings to tie the game at seven. Both clubs scored a run in the seventh to remain tied at eight.
The game would stay tied until the bottom of the tenth inning when Bisons junior short stop Zach Messer singled to left field which brought in junior third baseman Cory Hale for the game-winning run. Messer leads the Bisons with 32 runs batted in on the season.
“Zach has come up in some situations all year long,” Forehand said. “He has had opportunities to drive in a lot of runs, and he had a chance to get one there today. He has had some opportunities where he has had to learn and he hadn’t gotten it done. He just had to stay positive, and tonight happened to be his night.”
The Bisons used five pitchers in the second part of Saturday’s double-header. Freshman left-handed pitcher Chris Nunn got the start for Lipscomb and went for three and one-third innings. He gave up seven hits and six earned runs while striking out five batters.
Junior right-handed pitcher Mike Grace came in to relieve Nunn and pitched for two innings. Grace gave up two hits and one earned run. Junior left-handed pitcher Alex Ross replaced Grace, and sophomore right-hander Josh Cotham came in after that. It was Bisons sophomore right-handed pitcher Dannie Strable who came in for the last two innings for Lipscomb and got credit for the win. Strable did not give up a hit and walked only one batter.
Forehand said it was great to close out the series with such an exciting finish.
“We have lost several of those this year,” Forehand said. “You like to win them, and when you have an opportunity to win one in extra innings in a walk-off fashion it’s great.”
Seniors Ryan Wilkins and Tyler Wilson each had four hits on the day as well as junior catcher Matt Brewer who went four-for-four on Saturday. The only homerun on the afternoon was a solo shot by Hale over the left field wall in Saturday’s first game. The homerun was Hale’s sixth of the year.
Forehand said he hopes the sweep will give the Bisons some momentum as the season moves forward.
“I hope they realize that we started off slowly,” Forehand said. “And I hope they realize that this team can accomplish a lot of things.
Inside our league it is really good and everybody knows it’s good. The games will be just like that. They will be intense, and I am hoping this will be a spring board to next week’s non-conference games but then also when Kennesaw State comes in next weekend.”
The Bisons next action is on Tuesday night at home when Tennessee Tech comes to visit. The first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Written by Benjamin Seamon of the Lipscomb Athletic Media Relations Office