April 17, 2007
Using a combination of clutch hitting and strong pitching, the Bisons' defeated the nation's number one ranked team, the Vanderbilt Commodores, 5-3, on Tuesday, April 17.
"Tonight was a turning point," head coach Jeff Forehand said. "We have been growing over the season. Tonight we didn't let the small things effect us.
"This game is very important in getting us over the hump. Beating a very good team helps us get over the hill."
In the Bisons' last meeting against the number one ranked Commodores, the Bisons' were defeated 16-7.
The Commodores jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after three innings in Tuesday's game. The Bisons' starter, right-hander, Rob Smithson, settled down from that point on, shutting the Commodores out over the next four innings.
Throughout the first five innings, the Bisons' offense remained quiet, unable to record the big hit. They finally broke through in the sixth, scoring two runs to knot the game at two. Caleb Joseph led off the inning with a single to left center. The next batter, Ryan Wilkins drilled a double to left center, driving in Joseph for the Bisons' first run of the game. One out later, Justin Sanders added an RBI double of his own to even the score.
The Bisons would take the lead in the seventh. After Shane Simpkins reached on a bunt single with two outs, Joseph doubled the Bisons' score on a two-run homer to left, giving the Bisons' their first lead of both the game and the season against Vanderbilt. Sanders added an RBI single to increase the lead to 5-2.
"I guessed changeup and he threw it," Joseph said of the home run. "It was a good pitch. I just squared up and put a good swing on it, and it went out of the ball park."
Right-hander, Chris Burnett relieved Smithson with runners on first and second in the eighth. After walking the bases loaded, Burnett induced the next batter, Ryan Davis, to fly out to center field for the first out of the inning.
Brandon McClurg then entered the game in relief of Burnett. The first batter he faced, Alex Feinberg, grounded into a fielder's choice, driving in a run to bring the score to 5-3. McClurg struck out the final batter of the inning to preserve the Bisons two-run lead.
After recording two quick outs in the ninth, McClurg got the Commodores number three hitter, Pedro Alvarez, to swing and miss at a 60 mph changeup to seal the victory for the Bisons.
"I had chills," McClurg said. "It was a big moment; the number one team, and their number one hitter. That is about as big as it gets."
The Bisons' were backed by a record crowd of 1,002, most of whom were present until the last out.
"It was exciting," Joseph said. "The crowd was amazing. They were into it until the last strike. It felt like we were at Vandy, except this time it was our house."
Smithson earned the win to improve his record to 5-3. In seven innings, he gave up three runs on seven hits, while striking out five.
"The team played awesome," Smithson said. "The coaches have been getting on us all season, telling us that we can beat anybody. We proved tonight that they were right."
The Bisons were led on offense by Ryan Wilkins who went 3-4 with an RBI. The freshman first basemen is batting .353 this season.
"We just played our game and didn't let the number one ranking get to us," Wilkins said. "It was a great experience for my first year of collegiate ball, playing the number one team in the country. It was a big step forward for the Lipscomb baseball program and I am glad I could be part of it."
By: Krissy Wade