STARKVILLE, Miss. – Despite a hearty, ninth-inning comeback attempt that was one hit short of tying the game, the Lipscomb baseball team dropped a 6-4 decision to homestanding Mississippi State at Dudy Noble Field at Polk-Dement Stadium on Saturday in Starkville.
The Bison (4-6) got off to a rocky start against the Bulldogs (8-2) as Mississippi State roughed up Lipscomb junior starter Chris Nunn (0-1) for a pair of runs in the first and four more in the second to take an early 6-0 advantage. The Bulldogs battered Nunn for four hits in the first and then drew four walks from the Southpaw that led to difference in the ballgame.
“Nobody likes a moral victory but I feel like our team grew up a little bit today,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “Even though we lost the game, I think we grew.”
Lipscomb got things going in the fourth when junior right fielder Lee Wilson struck out to start the inning but reached on a wild pitch and then junior centerfielder Zach Lowery singled back up the middle to give Lipscomb two aboard. Senior first baseman Zak Messer moved the runners up 90 feet on a swinging bunt before junior third baseman Gray Hutchinson singled through the left side bringing home both Wilson and Lowery.
The 6-2 score held until the ninth inning thanks to a tremendous long-relief effort from junior Tyler Burstrom, who relieved Nunn in the second and senior southpaw Gil Rehwinkel, who worked a perfect eighth inning. Burstrom worked five and one-third innings scattering four hits, while allowing one walk and fanning five Bulldogs.
The Bison made a strong run at the MSU lead in the ninth thanks to a pair of Mississippi State miscues and some timely hitting. Hutchinson ledoff the frame by reaching on a fielding miscue by the MSU shortstop before junior shortstop Aaron Sandoval, who went 3-for-4 on the day, ripped a single through the left side.
With two aboard, Forehand opted to pinch hit senior Shawn Mehring, who hit a ball back up the middle that caromed off the back of the mound and through the wickets of the MSU shortstop for his second error of the frame. The miscue allowed Hutchinson to score from second to make it a 6-3 contest. Freshman second baseman Noah Chandler then hit a line-drive base hit to left field for his second hit of the afternoon that loaded the bases full of Bison.
Senior outfielder M.L. Williams would follow reaching on a fielder’s choice that was hit to third allowing MSU’s Daryl Norris to throw home to get the force out at the plate. Wilson then drove in his fifth run of the season with a fielder’s choice to second that scored Mehring from third to make it a 6-4 game.
That would be as close as Lipscomb would come however as MSU’s Taylor Stark got the Bulldogs out of the jam to earn his first save of the year by getting Lowery to strike out on a check swing.
“We’ve got some positive things to take away, said Forehand. “For us to not give up in the ninth inning down four runs against a good team is huge.”
Nunn took the loss for the Bison while MSU’s Trevor Fitts (2-0) picked up the win in relief of starter Kendall Graveman. Fitts worked four and one-thirds innings allowing four hits and two unearned runs and notching three strikeouts.
The Bison conclude play in the round-robin tournament on Sunday taking on Connecticut at 11 a.m. followed by a 2:30 p.m. contest against the Bulldogs.