NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It was a history making day for the Lipscomb baseball team on Sunday afternoon as the Bison used a two-run blast from senior second baseman Zak Messer to earn a series sweep of Atlantic Sun foe Mercer with a 7-4 win at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
Not only was it the first sweep of the Bears (16-10, 1-5 A-Sun) for the Bison (10-14, 3-3 A-Sun) in the history of the series between the two teams but Lipscomb senior left fielder M.L. Williams became the all-time leading run scorer in school history as he came across the dish on Messer’s bomb.
“It’s good to win,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “We came off a tough weekend last week at Upstate but coming back against a good team and getting three wins is huge for us and gets us back in line in the conference standings.
“I think the momentum we will gain after this weekend will be the biggest part. “
With the score knotted 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth, Williams reached on a hard-hit ball that was bobbled by Mercer third baseman Chesny Young allowing the veteran to reach. Messer then dug in and crushed the first pitch he saw over the batting cages in left field to put the Bison ahead 6-4. The homer gave Williams his 144th career run scored surpassing Allen Bolden to become the all-time leader.
The fireworks did not end there in the eighth for Lipscomb as Mercer reliever Grant Papelian (1-1), who took the loss on the afternoon, took exception to Messer and beaned freshman first baseman Griffin Moore. That would prove to be a costly move as Papelian then walked junior centerfielder Zach Lowery moving Moore into scoring position for junior shortstop Aaron Sandoval, who capped off a five-RBI weekend by driving in Moore with a single to centerfield.
“We’ve talked about it all year long that you have to play nine innings,” said Forehand. “It’s fun to watch after we’ve talked about it and talked about it and fallen short a few times. To see us battle back is great.”
Things looked good for Mercer early on as the Bears wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as Nick Backlund launched a two-run shot into Lake Lipscomb before Jamie McMillan sent a two-run blast over the 400-foot sign in centerfield.
Lipscomb would answer in the second with a three-run frame in the second to cut the lead to a single run. Junior third baseman Gray Hutchinson got things started with a leadoff walk before junior right fielder Lee Wilson was plunked to give the Bison two aboard with two outs. That set the table for Williams, who cut the Mercer lead in half with a double to the left centerfield gap that scored Hutchinson easily and allowed Wilson to cruise in all the way from first. Messer then stepped up and ripped his 12th double of the season moving him into a tie with Backlund atop the A-Sun leaders in the category and allowing Williams to score.
The Bears held on to their 4-3 lead until the fifth inning when the Bison manufactured a run on an RBI single by junior catcher Taylor Stewart that brought Sandoval home to score to knot the game at four.
Junior right-hander Tyler Burstrom picked up his first win of the season in two and two-thirds innings of perfect relief. Burstrom came on in the sixth inning for junior Josh Cotham, who went five and one-third innings allowing four earned runs and six hits while fanning six and walking a pair. Senior southpaw Gil Rehwinkel worked the ninth to earn his second save of the season.
The Bison step out of conference play this week with a trip to UT-Martin on Tuesday followed by a tilt at Evansville on Wednesday.