NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Missed opportunities were the refrain of the day as the Lipscomb baseball team combined to leave 21 runners on base in losses to Ball State and Bradley in the 2013 “Mule Mix Classic” on Saturday afternoon at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh stadium in Nashville.
The opening contest of the day saw the Bisons (4-3) drop a 6-2 decision to Ball State (3-3) before falling 11-9 to Bradley (1-5) in the nightcap.
“We had plenty of opportunities to win both games with the runners we left on base,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “It’s disappointing to lose a game that you had control of but we’ve got to learn from it and learn not to put ourselves in that situation.”
Against the Cardinals in the opener, Lipscomb stranded eight runners over the first three innings while Ball State pushed across five runs to take the early lead. BSU added another run in the top of the fourth before the Bisons got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the stanza.
An infield single by junior catcher Nick Rome got the inning started before senior right fielder Lee Wilson followed with a bunt single to put two aboard for Lipscomb. A single to centerfield by junior designated hitter Drew Adams loaded the bases for senior centerfielder Zach Lowery, who singled to third base allowing Rome to score. Cardinal starter Scott Baker then induced a double play that brought Wilson home but that would be all of the offense in game one as Baker and Jon Cisna combined to shutout the Bisons the rest of the way.
Senior righty Davey Hackett took the loss for Lipscomb giving up six earned runs, 11 hits and three walks in seven innings of work. Fellow senior Tyler Burstrom worked two perfect innings in relief of Hackett to keep the score intact but a comeback was not in the works for the Bisons as Cisna notched a save allowing only one hit and one walk in four innings for Ball State.
Game two got off to a good start for the Bisons as Lipscomb plated eight runs in the first two innings. Adams got the bottom of the first started with a leadoff walk before catcher Taylor Stewart singled through the left side to put two aboard.
Lowery walked to jam the bases full of Bisons for senior third baseman Gray Hutchinson, who hit into a fielder’s choice that allowed Adams to score. A double play then cut the rally short as the Bisons took a 1-0 lead early.
Back-to-back singles by junior left fielder Chad Shannon and sophomore first baseman Tyson Ashcraft got things going in the second inning. Senior shortstop Aaron Sandoval was tasked with a sacrifice bunt to move the duo up 90 feet but the bunt Sandoval laid down had other ideas. A great sacrifice attempt hung to the lip of the grass and rolled all the way across third base for an infield single to load the bases.
Adams then collected an easy RBI as he was beaned bringing Shannon across the dish for a 2-0 lead. Hutchinson then cleared the bases with a double to the right centerfield gap to make it a 5-0 cushion. Sophomore second baseman Noah Chandler then reached on an error that also scored Hutchinson before Shannon singled to right to put runners on the corners. A wild pitch brought Chandler the 90 feet to home and rounded out the scoring in the frame as the Bisons took an 8-0 lead early.
Things started to unravel in the sixth inning for the Bisons as junior starter Hunter Brothers developed control issues and the Braves took full advantage of a hit-by-pitch, and three-straight walks to end Brothers’ night after five and one-thirds innings of work. By the time junior reliever Geordie Carlson and Burstrom could retire the final two outs of the inning Bradley had plated five runs, three of which were unearned thanks to a Bison error.
“When you look at the second game and we’re up 8-1 heading into the sixth, you’ve got to feel pretty good about where you are,” said Forehand. “ I have to tip my hat to them. They did a good job but we put them in that position with giving them some base-on-balls and then we made a fielding mistake. You can’t do that in any college baseball game. When that situation is there you’ve got to take it and we didn’t take it in the sixth inning.”
Bradley kept the offense going in the seventh inning as a pair of one-out singles set the table for Braves first baseman Andrew Wasmund, who launched a ball over the left field fence to take a 9-8 lead.
The Bisons would answer right back in the bottom of the frame as Sandoval ripped a one-out double and then came home to score on a single to centerfield as Adams drove in his second RBI of the game capping off a 3-for-8 day at the plate for Adams.
“Drew seems like he’s locked in,” said Forehand. “He’s having good at bats and the pitches that he takes are giving him quality at bats. We had some guys have some quality at bats today but for the most part we didn’t have as many as we talk about needing all the time. That’s something we’ll correct.”
The game would head to extra innings with the score tied 9-9 when Bradley would push across a pair of runs to secure the win off Ashcraft, who came on to start the frame. The Bisons threatened in the bottom of the 10th getting a pair of runners aboard but both were left stranded.
Ashcraft took the loss allowing two earned runs and three hits in one inning of work. Brent Strong notched the first win of the season for the Braves working the final three and two-thirds innings. Strong did not allow a hit, walked a pair and fanned seven Lipscomb batters as part of 15 strikeouts in the game for the Bisons.
The 2013 “Mule Mix Classic” concludes on Sunday with Lipscomb taking on Northwestern at 3 p.m. at Dugan Field.