MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – A pair of wild pitches brought two runs across the plate in the bottom of the eighth and that would be the difference as the Lipscomb baseball team dropped a 7-5 nonconference decision to homestanding Middle Tennessee on Tuesday night at Reese Smith Jr. Field.
“We didn’t play our best baseball tonight,” Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand said. “On a cold night like tonight, they guys just have to be ready and be stronger.
“They (Middle Tennessee) had four errors in the game, and although we had runners on base, we just didn’t capitalize when we had an opportunity. It was a tough loss, but we have to put it behind us.”
After the Blue Raiders touched Lipscomb starter Ian Martinez-McGraw for three runs and taking a 3-0 lead after two innings, the Bisons would get on the scoreboard in the third with two runs of their own.
Junior first baseman Adam Lee opened the stanza with a walk before moving to second on a failed pickoff attempt that sailed to the fence and moving 90 feet from home on a balk.
That set things up for senior right fielder Drew Adams and the veteran drove in his 29th run of the season with an infield single that brought Adam Lee across the plate. Adams then swiped second and came home to score on a single up the middle by sophomore third baseman Austin Sistrunk to make it a 3-2 contest.
Martinez-McGraw was lifted in the third inning for freshman Jamie Young. The lefty had just seen one inning of work coming in to the game, but was outstanding for the Bisons in 5.1 innings of relief work.
The Bisons pulled even in the top of the fifth when junior designated hitter Griffin Moore singled down the left field line to bring home junior shortstop Grant Massey, who had reached earlier in the inning.
The tie would be short lived however, as the Blue Raiders countered in the bottom of the frame with a pair of runs.
Young gave free passes to the first two batters of the inning before Hank LaRue ripped an RBI-single through the left side of the infield to give Middle Tennessee the lead.
Later in the inning Jake Ingold would drive in another run for the Blue Raiders to take a 5-3 advantage.
Lipscomb mounted a rally in the seventh inning as Massey and Adams got things going with one away. Massey drew his 24th free pass of the season before moving to second on a single through the left side by Adams. Both runners then moved up 90 feet setting the table for Moore, whose ground out to second brought Massey home. Adams then tied the game up scoring on a wild pitch.
The game would be decided in the eighth as the Blue Raiders got a pair of runners aboard behind a leadoff walk and an infield single. That set things in motion for the two wild pitches that would ultimately decide the game.
“We had a great matchup with the lefty-lefty in the eighth inning,” Forehand said. “We just had a couple of wild pitches that unfortunately led to the winning runs. If we want to win a close game, those things can’t happen. “
Young was tagged with the loss despite a solid pitching effort. The rookie tossed five and one-third innings of relief allowing two earned runs, four walks and just one hit. Young also fanned five in his second appearance of the season.
“Jamie did a great job for us tonight,” Forehand said. “He had a couple of big strikeouts to end the inning and only allowed one hit. And he is still learning the ropes as a freshman.
“It was a good performance by Jamie and I am proud of what he did tonight.”
Caleb Smith earned the win in relief for Middle Tennessee tossing one and one-third innings without allowing a hit. Heath Slatton earned the save working a perfect ninth for the Blue Raiders.
Adams was the only Bison to collect multiple hits on the night, going 2-for-4 at the dish with two runs scored, a walk and an RBI.
The Bisons continue road action this weekend with an Atlantic Sun Conference series at USC Upstate that gets underway on Friday with a 5 p.m. first pitch.
“The guys will be prepared and ready to get back at it on Friday because this game left a bad taste in their mouths,” Forehand said.