March 19, 2006
The Bisons won two-of-three games with the rival Belmont Bruins, closing out the Atlantic Sun series with a 6-5 victory Sunday afternoon a chilly Greer Stadium.
"I'm guessing it has been four years since we won a series against Belmont," said Lipscomb coach Wynn Fletcher. "And last year we didn't win an A-Sun series. You need to get that first one under your belt to let you believe in yourself.
"Our guys are getting a lot better. We have a good enough mix of seniors and freshmen. The freshmen stay excited. The seniors tell them when to back down a little bit. We just have to stay positive and professional all the time."
The Bisons are 10-9 overall, 3-3 in the conference. Belmont slipped to 10-10, 2-4 in the A-Sun.
The Bisons scored a pair of runs in the second inning. Zac Miller led off with a single to center. Ryan Price followed with a single to right. Jeff Baumgartner walked with one out to load the bases. Preston Embrey reached base on an infield single to second which scored Miller and Price.
Belmont answered with a one run in the third.
The Bisons opened the game up in the eighth with three runs. Caleb Joseph opened with a single to left and moved to second on a passed ball. Joseph advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Baumgartner. Whit Reed then walked followed by a walk by Embrey. Tadd Brewer flied out to center field scoring Joseph with the sacrifice.
With Reed on third and Embrey on second after a wild pitch, Patrick O'Rourke came to the plate. With a 3-2 count O'Rourke slammed a fly ball into right field corner that scored Reed and Embrey.
Belmont again responded with another solo run in the bottom of the eighth.
In the ninth the Bisons got an added insurance run when Baumgartner drilled a shot through the left side of the infield that Justin Sanders who had reached base on a walk and advance to second on a single Joseph to center.
It turned out they would need it. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth Belmont's Kane Simmons pounded his second home run over the right field fence in as many games, this one a three-run effort.
Freshman right-hander Josh Smith, 3-2, started on the mound for the Bisons. He gave up five runs, all earned, on eight hits, walked six and struck out six in 8.2 innings. Based on the work the pitchers go through under pitching coach Lantz Wheeler, Fletcher anticipates his starters putting in complete or near complete game efforts.
"Our conditioning and strength training has just improved tremendously," said Fletcher. "The easiest day for our pitchers is the day they pitch as far as conditioning of their bodies. With what they have to go through the other six days they would rather be out there pitching all day long.'
Belmont sent Carlo Testa to the mound. He allowed seven hits and four runs, all earned, in 7.1 innings. He walked six and struck out eight.
Brandon Paetznick pitched one-third of an inning for Belmont in relief. He gave up one hit and one run. Eric Diaz pitched the final 1.1 innings for Belmont. He gave up two hits and one run while walking one and striking out one.
The Bisons 10-hit attack was led O'Rourke, Price, Joseph and Baumgartner who each had a pair of hits. O'Rourke and Embrey each had two RBI.
Robby Smithson came on in relief for the Bisons. He picked up the save getting the last out of the game, a fly out to left center by Wilson Tucker.
"Robby has done a good job out of the bullpen and starting," said Fletcher. "He is 3-0 with another save. He has really come a long way in the last two years. I'm happy for him. He has put a lot of hard work into it."
The Bisons return to action at Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. against Morehead State.
"We can play our Tuesday game and possibly get a few other guys involved and try to have a good trip down to Stetson next weekend," said Fletcher.