BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Scoring in each of the last four innings, the Lipscomb baseball team took a 5-4 extra innings decision over homestanding Western Kentucky on Wednesday night at Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green.
“After a tough loss on Sunday it was great to see us bounce back,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “I’m just proud of the team and the way we responded. It was just a solid game all the way around.”
The Hilltoppers (11-10) opened up the scoring in the second inning when catcher Ryan Messex launched a leadoff home run into a jet stream blowing out to left centerfield for the 1-0 WKU lead. A one-out walk and double made it a 2-0 advantage for the home team in the third before the Hilltoppers manufactured a run in the third for a 3-0 lead that would carry over to the sixth inning.
Lipscomb (8-14) got the first two runners aboard in the sixth but senior first baseman Aaron Sandoval was gunned down trying to steal third after leading off the inning with a single before a walk by senior centerfielder Zack Lowery. Sandoval getting caught stealing would prove critical in the game as sophomore second baseman Noah Chandler followed with an infield single before sophomore designated hitter Tyson Ashcraft singled to left center that scored Lowery from second and would have made it a 3-2 game had Sandoval still been on the base path.
Sophomore Griffin Moore came off the bench in the seventh to replace Sandoval and led off the eighth with a walk. Chandler then followed with a one-out double to put a pair of runners into scoring position. Another RBI single by Ashcraft made it a 3-2 contest as Moore came home to score before junior left fielder Chad Shannon put down a perfect bunt down the first baseline on a safety squeeze that tied the game 3-3.
Lipscomb kept the offense going in the ninth as senior right fielder Lee Wilson led off the stanza with a single to left before moving into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore shortstop Joey Cecere. That set the table for senior catcher Taylor Stewart, who delivered a double to left center bringing Wilson home to score easily and putting the Bisons ahead 4-3.
The ninth inning got off to a rocky start for the Bisons as WKU’s Scott Wilcox hit a slow roller to third that was handled but an errant throw landed Wilcox on second . That would prove to send the game to extra innings when a Hilltopper single moved Wilcox to third before a sacrifice fly to centerfield tied the game up 4-4.
The Bisons finally got a bit of fortune in the top of the 10th when Shannon drew a leadoff walk and then raced all the way to third base after a pickoff move had him dead to rights but Ian Tompkins threw the pickoff attempt to the fence. That would loom large later in the inning when Cecere would lift a flyball to center for a sacrifice fly to give the Bisons a 5-4 cushion and the eventual win.
Redshirt junior Jacob Knott lasted four and two-thirds innings giving up three earned runs, five hits and six walks while fanning six Hilltoppers. Knott exited in the fifth as sophomore J Hwang came out of the bullpen.
Hwang got the Bisons out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts and went on to fan five batters. After walking the first batter he faced, Hwang retired eight straight batters before allowing a leadoff double in the eighth.
“J did a fabulous job and got us to Tyson,” said Forehand. “It was all about that tonight. Tyson had a great game at the plate and then came in and closed it out.”
The sophomore would work 4.2 innings in all allowing one unearned run and two hits while fanning seven to pick up his first collegiate win. Ashcraft then came on to work a perfect tenth inning to earn his first career save to go along with a 3-for-4 night at the plate with two RBIs.
Lipscomb returns home this weekend to open Atlantic Sun Conference play as North Florida comes to Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh stadium. The series gets underway on Friday night at 6 p.m. before a 2 p.m. tilt on Saturday and a 1 p.m. first pitch on Sunday. To purchase tickets visit http://www.BeHerdLU.com