STARKVILLE, Miss. – Giving up five runs in the final two innings of play, the Lipscomb baseball team dropped a heartbreaking 6-5 decision to Connecticut on Sunday at Dudy Noble Field at Polk-Dement Stadium in Starkville.
The Huskies (4-6) opened the scoring in the contest with a two-out rally in the fourth against Lipscomb (4-7) starter Josh Cotham. Back-to-back singles by Ryan Fuller and Tom Verdi set the table for Joe Pavone, who hit a single to right ending Cotham’s shutout bid.
“UConn made it happen when they had to make it happen,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “They hit the ball when they had to hit it.
“When you go into the bottom of the eighth up four, you think you’ve got a great chance to win the game. They did what they had to do.”
Lipscomb got their first rally of the afternoon answering right back in the top of the fifth. Junior shortstop Aaron Sandoval got things started reaching for the second time in the game with a leadoff walk after a third-inning hit. Senior catcher Logan Hostetler then had an adventurous at bat that saw the veteran backstop foul a bunt off his face before being beaned by UConn starter Pat Butler.
With two aboard and no outs, junior left fielder Ricky Coleman laid a perfect bunt down the third base line moving up both Sandoval and Hostettler. That set things up for senior designated hitter M.L. Williams, who delivered a 1-0 pitch down the left field line for a double that plated both Sandoval and Hostettler as Lipscomb took a 2-1 lead.
The Bison doubled their run output in the sixth as sophomore second baseman Aaron Spragg, who came on for Noah Chandler after he left with a lower-body injury, ledoff the inning with a single in his first at bat of the season. Junior third baseman Gray Hutchinson gave the Bison two aboard in the very next at bat when he was hit-by-pitch.
Sandoval then hit a bouncing ball to the UConn shortstop that should have been a sure out at second but the throw sailed into right field allowing Spragg to score. Coleman then drove Hutchinson in later in the inning with an RBI single to right as Lipscomb took a 4-1 lead.
Lipscomb then added an insurance measure in the seventh again making UConn pay for an error. With two away, Sandoval hit an infield single to third that allowed junior centerfielder Zach Lowery to score to make it a 5-1 advantage.
Things began to unravel for the Bison in the eighth inning as Cotham neared the century mark in pitches. The righty gave up a leadoff triple to Billy Ferriter and then an infield single to LJ Mazzilli ending his solid afternoon of work. In all, Cotham worked seven innings allowing nine hits and three earned runs with one walk and three strikeouts.
“It’s unfortunate that he (Cotham) pitches that good and we can’t close it out for him,” said Forehand. “We had our best guy in there at the end and they got him. Next time it will be different.”
Senior southpaw Gil Rehwinkel (2-1) came on in relief of Cotham and issued a walk, a triple and a single right out of the gate allowing the Huskies to erase the deficit and tie the game 5-5. UConn kept the hot hitting going in the ninth against Rehwinkel with a trio of singles that earned the win for the Huskies.
Carson Cross (1-1) picked up the win in relief for Connecticut working a perfect one and one-third innings.