FT MYERS, Fla. – Freshman third baseman Hunter Hanks proved to be the hero in the opening round of the 2014 Atlantic Sun Conference Baseball Championship as the rookie delivered a two-out single to break open a 1-1 tie in the 10thinning propelling Lipscomb to a 2-1 win over Jacksonville at Swanson Stadium on Wednesday night.
“Tonight was just a fun game,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “Ian pitched such a great game and the game was well-played all the way through. We had a lot of opportunities early to get more than one but we didn’t.
“Hunter coming through at the end after Grant (Massey) leads it off and we got the bunt down, that’s what you talk about and work on all the time. It’s fun for coaches to see it come through.”
The rookie stepped up with junior shortstop Grant Massey on second base after he opened the frame with a leadoff single and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior center fielder Jonathan Allison. The Dolphins (20-32) opted to walk senior right fielder Drew Adams to setup the potential double play but it never worked in their favor as Hanks delivered in the clutch.
Allison got the offense started for the Bisons (31-26) in the game in the third inning with a leadoff triple. The Nashville, Tennessee native ripped a ball into right field that Jacksonville’s Michael Babb was unable to get a bead on. When the smoke cleared, Allison was on third with his fifth triple of the year tying the single-season mark for Lipscomb.
That set things up for Adams and the veteran delivered with a single through the left side giving Lipscomb the 1-0 advantage.
The score would hang 1-0 in the Bisons favor until the top of the ninth when a high fly ball into foul ground would carom off of junior left fielder Josh Lee and land in fair territory. JU’s Michael Babb would wind up on third due to the miscue to leadoff the frame.
“That was a tough play from where we were positioned,” said Forehand. “But our defense came up big all night. We made the routine plays and made a couple of really good plays.”
That would end the night for Lipscomb knuckleballer Ian Martinez-McGraw, who was stellar in his start giving up just three hits in eight innings of work. The righty fanned six and walked three as he became just the second pitcher of the NCAA Division I era for the Bisons to cross the 100 innings pitched plateau.
Junior southpaw reliever Jason Ziegler came on to relieve Martinez-McGraw and got the first out of the inning with an easy groundout but Jacksonville star Scott Schaub delivered in the clutch with a single to center field to tie the game 1-1.
Senior reliever Jacob Knott picked up the win in relief getting all three outs in the 10th inning after Ziegler issued a leadoff walk to start the frame.
The Bisons advance to take on top-seeded Florida Gulf Coast on Thursday night at 7:15 p.m. at Swanson Stadium. The game will be carried live on http://www.ASun.TV for free.