Bisons baseball coach Jeff Forehand has been warning his team for weeks that their backs were close to the wall. With the Bisons on the road Friday and Saturday for a three-game Atlantic Sun series at North Florida in Jacksonville, Forehand told his players that their backs are now definitely against the wall as they battle for one of the six positions in the conference tournament.
“I told them six-to-nine games ago that our backs weren’t against the wall,” Forehand said. “But our backs are against the wall now. We have to go out and play every game like it is the last one of the season. I hate to say that every game is do-or-die, but it is pretty close.
“We have to be prepared. We put ourselves in this position. For us to put ourselves in a position to be one of the six teams in the tournament we have to win several of the games we have left and also have something happen along the way that is not in our control.”
The Bisons have 11 games left in the regular season, but more importantly they only have nine remaining against A-Sun foes.
The Bisons head into tonight’s 6 p.m. game at Dusty Rhodes Field at Harmon Stadium with a 15-29 record overall, 6-11 in the conference. The Ospreys of North Florida are 24-20, 10-7 in the A-Sun.
The Ospreys lead the series with the Bisons 7-5. The Bisons have won the last two meetings.
The Bisons would like to win back-to-back games, something they haven’t done since April 9 and 10 when they beat Kennesaw State.
“It sounds awfully clichéd, but we have to put all of our efforts into game one,” Forehand said. “We need to get that one and then put all of our effort into the next game.
“We have to be able to put some back-to-back wins together. We haven’t been able to do that very often this season. We have to get some momentum going.”
The Bisons plan to start senior right-hander Josh Smith tonight. Smith is 8-2, a career-high in wins. He also has 100 strikeouts, one away from his career high of 101 set last season. He is also 13th in the NCAA in victories.
His eight wins are the most by a Lipscomb pitcher in the past four seasons. Smith led the team with seven last season. Rex Brothers and Rob Smithson each had seven victories in 2007.
Sophomore right-hander Davey Hackett, 3-5, is scheduled to start game two Saturday at noon. Forehand has not penciled in a starter in the nightcap of the doubleheader. Junior right-hander Mike Grace, 1-2, could possibly get the nod based on whether or not he is needed in the first two games.
Forehand would like to see the Bisons perform on Saturdays and Sundays like they do for Smith on Fridays.
“We are a different team on Fridays,” Forehand said. “We put up runs early for Josh which helps him be better on the mound.
“Sometimes we pitch pretty well on Saturday or Sunday, but we don’t get the hitting. Sometimes we hit pretty good, but we don’t get the pitching. I’m not making excuses, but we also had some bad luck. The ball hasn’t bounced our way.”
The Bisons are led offensively by the Wilson brothers. Older brother Tyler is batting .345, but Lee is close behind at .344.
Forehand is keeping a positive outlook despite the situation. He is hopeful that his players will respond to the challenge.
“If we play poorly in these three games we could be out of the race for the tournament before next weekend,” Forehand said. “But if we play pretty good we could very well be back in it. We have no margin for error.
“I can’t get the first 45 games back. We have to look forward to the next 11. If we can put ourselves in the position to make the tournament it will be a great story. Other teams have done it. We have to take the attitude of `why can’t we do it’ too.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.