That was fine with the Lipscomb Bisons who prevailed 10-8 Friday night against Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, the top team in the Atlantic Sun Conference. An estimated crowd of more than 600 was on hand at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium to watch Eagles left-hander Chris Sale, an expected first round draft pick this summer, face Bisons right-hander Josh Smith, also expected to be a high round pick.
“This is such a good win because they are such a good team and Sale is such a good pitcher,” Bisons coach Jeff Forehand said. “We were able to scratch out a few runs early.
“What was going to be a pitcher’s duel turned into a hitter’s game. That’s just baseball.”
The Bisons jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but allowed the game to get interesting when Josh Chester blasted a grand slam to right field in the sixth inning to spark a five-run rally.
Offensively, the Bisons were sparked by home runs as well. With two outs in the third Tyler Wilson slammed a solo homer to left field. He finished the game with five hits for the second time this season, a team high. Justin Sanders had five hits last season in a May 16th game with ETSU.
“Sale throws hard,” Tyler Wilson said. “He is a good pitcher. I don’t think he had his best stuff. He didn’t have a lot of movement.”
Tyler Wilson is second to his brother Lee on the team in hitting. It is a friendly, brotherly competition.
“It is like it was back in high school when we batted one and two,” Tyler Wilson said. “We give each other tips after we get through hitting. He is batting well. I’m trying to catch him on his average.”
Tyler Wilson, who entered the game ranked eighth in NCAA Division I in stolen bases, added three more. He has 28 for the season, surpassing his 25 last season.
“I feel like I have great instincts on the bases,” Tyler Wilson said. “I should have gotten one more and then I shouldn’t have gone on one. I love running the bases and catching fly balls.”
Forehand calls Tyler Wilson the sparkplug of the offense.
“He sparks the offense,” Forehand said. “I can’t get upset with him when he does get thrown out.”
In the fourth inning Zach Messer added a solo home run to left field. Messer added two RBI in the fifth with a double through the left side of the field.
Florida Gulf Coast tied the game at 7-7 with two runs in the seventh. The Bisons responded with one run in the bottom of the seventh as Lee Wilson scored on a throwing error.
In the eighth the Eagles added one more run on a double to left field by Joe Guarnaccia to tie the game at 8-8.
The Bisons weren’t finished as they scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI-double through the left side by Tyler Wilson and an RBI-single to left field by Cory Hale.
Chad Fromm threw the ninth inning for the Bisons. He earned his third save of the season, striking out one and not allowing a hit.
“I wanted Smitty to go back out in the ninth, but he was beat,” Forehand said. “We went to Chad and he had a big inning.”
Smith extended his record to 7-1. He pitched eight innings, scattering seven hits and giving up eight runs, all earned. He walked four and struck out 10, his fourth straight game with double figures in strikeouts.
The Bisons collected 14 hits. In seven innings they pounded Sale for 11 hits and scored eight runs, all earned. Sale did strike out 11 while walking two. Jack Waggoner pitched the eighth inning and took the loss. He gave up three hits and two runs, both earned.
The Bisons are 13-22, 5-5 in the A-Sun. Florida Gulf Coast is 21-12, 12-4 in the conference.
Game two of the series will start Saturday at 1. Forehand has not named a starter. Right-hander Davey Hackett (3-3, 3.47), who has been the No. 2 starter the past two weekends, will start Sunday’s game at noon.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.