NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a battle of top offenses the Lipscomb baseball team showed that not only can it win the high-scoring affairs, but it can grind it out and win the close ones too. The Bisons got strong pitching performances to take a 2-1 decision over Mercer Saturday at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
Lipscomb improved to 24-12 overall and 12-2 in league play to stay on top of the Atlantic Sun Conference baseball standings. The Bears lost back-to-back games in league play for the first time this season and fell to 27-10 overall and 10-4 in the A-Sun.
It was in the first inning that all of the fireworks were used up.
The first two batters of the game for Mercer reached on back-to-back free passes. A Lipscomb wild pitch allowed both runners to advance.
Perhaps the biggest play of the game came when Chesny Young roped a hard hit ball to third base on the next at-bat.
Sophomore third baseman Austin Sistrunk made a diving stop and quickly jumped to his feet to throw the ball home. Redshirt freshman catcher Tyler Bethune blocked the plate with his foot and made the tag to get the out at home. Mercer struck out and grounded out to end the inning.
The Purple and Gold used the momentum to plate two runs in the bottom half of the frame and jump on Mercer 2-0.
Junior centerfielder Jonathan Allison drew a leadoff walk to get on base for hot-hitting Grant Massey. The junior shortstop laced a double off the bottom of the left field wall to put runners at second and third for Drew Adams.
Adams lifted a sacrifice fly to center that allowed Allison to cross the dish. In what would eventually be a huge play, Massey swiped third to stand just 90 feet from home plate. Massey scored what would be the eventual game-winning run when Sistrunk grounded out to second.
“It was a great first inning,” Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand said. “Drew and Sistrunk had a couple of clutch, situational at-bats for us to get those runs on the board early. But we have to give Mercer credit because they pitched really well after that point to hold us in check. Both teams made some big plays throughout the game, but we were able to hold on for the win.”
Young drew a leadoff walk for the Bears in the fourth. Young advanced to second base on a Hunter Brothers wild pitch. Derrick Workman followed with a single through the right side to put runners at the corners with one out.
Facing Devin Bonin, Brothers got just what he needed with a ground ball to short, but Massey was late stepping on second and then threw the ball away to allow Young to score and cut the Bisons lead to 2-1.
Brothers stayed focus and got out of the inning with no further damage.
Junior Nick Andros took over on the bump for Brothers in the sixth and was nothing short of magical. The southpaw worked four shutout innings, facing 15 batters and recording seven punch outs. He allowed just one walk.
Brothers got the win and improved to 2-1 on the year after working five innings, giving up one run on two hits. He had six strikeouts and four walks.
“Hunter was not as sharp today as he was last weekend, but he gutted out a great performance” Forehand said. “For him to get out of that first-inning jam and give us five great innings was great.
“He handed the ball over to Nick in the sixth and he was great in relief for us. They both did exactly what they were supposed to do.”
Grant Papelian took the loss for Mercer and dropped to 3-2. He allowed two runs on three hits and recorded four strikeouts and one walk.
Massey stayed hot at the plate going 3-of-4 to keep his 10-game hitting streak alive. It was his team-leading 13th multi-hit performance of the season.
“It was two good baseball teams and both have been playing really well,” Forehand said. “Today was just a really good college baseball game. I am proud of our guys for what they did today and it should be another good one tomorrow.”
The Bisons and Bears return to action at 1 p.m. Sunday for the final game of the three-game set. A-SunTV will carry the matchup.