NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Able to overcome a lengthy rain delay and an eighth-inning rally by North Florida, the Lipscomb baseball team picked up the first win of the Atlantic Sun Conference season with a 4-3 extra-innings win over the Ospreys on Sunday afternoon at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“After getting beat on Friday and Saturday and then coming back for this game and being able to stay in it was huge,” said Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand. “Will (Blalock) just gave us an unbelievable performance today even after the hour and a half rain delay.
“It was a solid, solid outing by him and then Tyson (Ashcraft) gave us a repeat performance of what he did on Wednesday night at Western Kentucky.”
The game got off to a NASCAR like start as the two teams raced to beat the impending rain. Both starters cruised through the first four and a half innings before a lightning warning halted play at 1:23 p.m. The rain followed shortly and the game would not resume until 3:05 p.m. with the score tied 0-0.
Once the flood gates stopped, both Lipscomb righthander Will Blalock and North Florida southpaw Michael Renner returned to the bump and both kept throwing strikes.
The scoreless tie would hold until the sixth inning when senior right fielder Lee Wilson reached on an infield single to second base. The veteran sped down the base line and lunged for the bag to beat the throw and in doing so had to leave the game after an injury.
Senior Zach Lowery came on to pinch run and would move up into scoring position on a single through the left side by classmate Taylor Stewart in the next at bat. That set the table for senior third baseman Aaron Sandoval and the veteran came through with a single to left that loaded the bases before redshirt freshman second baseman Noah Chandler lifted a fly ball to centerfield that brought Lowery home to score and ended the Osprey’s shutout bid.
Renner would hang on for UNF until the seventh inning when junior right fielder Drew Adams ripped a two-out double and sophomore shortstop Joey Cecere walked. David Trexler would come on and douse the flames for the Ospreys however.
That would loom large in the next inning as North Florida opened the eighth with back-to-back singles ending Blalock’s afternoon on the hill. Before the smoke cleared in the half inning, Lipscomb would send four pitchers to the mound and the Ospreys would take a 3-1 lead.
The lead would be short lived however as Lipscomb answered right back with a two-run bottom of the stanza and had a great chance to retake the lead. Stewart got the rally started with a leadoff double that chased Trexler before Sandoval was beaned and Chandler reached on a bunt single to load the bases.
An already unusual game would get even stranger next as sophomore designated hitter Tyson Ashcraft would foul a ball off to the first base side of the field but Osprey backstop Corey Bass was called for catcher’s interference cutting the lead to 3-2 as Stewart came home to score on the call.
Sophomore first baseman Griffin Moore then came through with a clutch single through the right side to tie the game as the Bisons went station to station. The Ospreys would then go to the bullpen bringing on Nick Allbritton and the move would work as Albritton would get a fly out and a double play to end the jam and eventually send the game to extra innings.
A leadoff single by Sandoval in the tenth would prove to be key in the contest as Forehand opted to pinch run Geordie Carlson for Sandoval then and move the speedster over with a sacrifice bunt by Chandler. That set the table for Ashcraft, who had came on to pitch in the top of the ninth, and the sophomore earned himself the win on the hill with a base hit that glanced off the shorstop’s glove allowing Carlson to score on a close play at the plate.
The RBI single gave Ashcraft his first career win on the bump after tossing the final two innings. The righty allowed a hit and a walk while fanning three. Ashcraft’s effort followed that of Blalock, who went 7.1 innings giving up two earned runs, seven hits and a pair of walks.
Albritton took the loss for UNF giving up the one run in the tenth.
The Bisons make the short trek to take on No. 2 Vanderbilt at Hawkins Field.