NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Behind an eighth-inning double from senior first baseman Zak Messer that plated junior centerfielder Zack Lowery, the Lipscomb baseball team downed Kent State 2-1 on Friday afternoon at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium in Nashville.
The Messer double ended a 1-1 pitcher’s duel between Lipscomb (4-1) starter Connor Sinclair and Kent State’s David Starn (1-1). Both starters had given up solo home runs in the first three innings of play but little else until the eighth inning when Messer gave the Bison their first lead of the game.
Lipscomb senior southpaw Gil Rehwinkel (2-0), who had come on in relief in the top of the eighth, stymied the Golden Flames in the ninth to earn his second win in as many outings after earning the victory against Middle Tennessee on Tuesday night.
“I can’t say enough about Gil coming in and what he did,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “He’s pitching huge right now.”
Rehwinkel came on with one away in the eighth inning in relief of freshman Hunter Brothers, who started the frame as Sinclair hit the showers after seven innings. Back-to-back singles and a wild pitch got Brothers in a jam but the newcomer got a comebacker to the mound to get the first out of the inning before Rehwinkel ended the threat by loading the bases with a walk that setup a pitcher-to-catcher-to-first double play.
The Golden Flashes, who made it to the NCAA Regional final in Austin, Texas a year ago and split with then No. 9 Georgia Tech last weekend, actually led first in the contest when first baseman George Roberts launched a rocket over the 400-foot sign in centerfield in the second inning to put Kent State in front 1-0.
Lipscomb would answer in the third when junior leadoff hitter Lee Wilson, hitting from the left side hit a line-drive blast into the stiff breeze that carried over the left centerfield wall for an opposite-field home run. Wilson would finish with three of the six hits on the afternoon that Starn gave up.
Sinclair did not factor in the decision but pitched an outstanding game going seven full innings allowing five hits and the one homer. The veteran also fanned seven batters while walking only two.
“When he starts, he puts us in a position to win the game,” said Forehand. “In the seventh, I told Connor ‘This is your man, you’ve got to get this guy out’ which was a big out for him and just icing on the cake of the performance he had.”
A week after earning the win and multiple player of the week honors behind shutting Georgia Tech out for eight innings, Starn took the loss for Kent State going seven and two-thirds innings allowing two earned runs and six hits. The lefty walked a pair to go along with 10 strikeouts.
“Starn is one of the best guys we’re going to see,” said Forehand. “He’s a guy they can hang their hat on every Friday night. Fortunately, Zak got a pitch and ran into it for a double to drive that run in. You’ve got to tip your cap to him. He pitched a great game.”
The two squads continue the series on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Dugan Field. Lipscomb is scheduled to send junior lefty Blake Fonfara (0-0) up against junior Ryan Bores (0-1).