March 25, 2008
Sometimes coaches wonder if their players are listening to what they have to say.
Tuesday night, in a 4-3 win over Murray State at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium, Lipscomb baseball coach Jeff Forehand got some proof that some of the things he has talked about are getting through to his players.
On the mound right-hander Josh Smith picked up his first win, holding Murray State to eight hits and three runs, all earned, in seven innings. Smith struck out nine and walked only one batter.
"Josh pitched a solid game for us," said Forehand. "We have been talking about our pitchers giving us good efforts and getting us into the seven or eighth inning. Josh did that and he had a normal pitch count.
"Josh is as good a fourth starter as any team could have. He started out in our conference rotation, but I told him we had some big mid-week games we needed him to pitch."
Right-hander Kyle Tognazzini pitched the eighth inning and struck out the side.
Forehand called on left-hander Rex Brothers in the ninth inning. Brothers is the No. 1 starter in the rotation, but Forehand wanted him to come into a game late since it is a situation they might face during the Atlantic Sun Tournament.
Brothers picked up his first save, allowing one hit and striking out one.
"We know we will pitch Rex first in the tournament," Forehand said. "We also know if will probably have to pitch again if we go deep into the tournament. We didn't want him coming into a game late for the first time in May."
Another lesson that Forehand has been trying to teach his team is that getting on base with two outs is crucial to the success of the team.
In the fifth inning, with the Bisons trailing 2-1, Allen Bolden walked with two outs. Caleb Joseph then doubled to center field to bring home Bolden. Justin Sanders followed with a ground-rule double to center that sent Joseph across the plate.
"We have been talking about getting on base with two outs,' Forehand said. "It's nice to know that they are listening to you."
The Bisons spotted Murray State, an Ohio Valley Conference team, two runs in the top of the third.
In the bottom of the third the Bisons picked up one run. Bolden doubled to left field with one out. Joseph singled to drive Bolden in with the run.
The Bisons scored what proved to be the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Shane Simpkins opened with a bunt single to the pitcher. Channing Brown moved Simpkins to second with a sacrifice bunt. Ben Williams reached base on a fielding error by the pitcher that sent Simpkins to third. Simpkins scored on a single by Jorge Gutierrez down the left field line.
Murray State added a third run in the top of the seventh.
Simpkins led the Bisons at the plate with three hits. Joseph added two.
Marc Harmon started for Murray State and gave up eight hits and four runs in 5.2 innings. Brad Rowland closed out the game, allowing only one hit.
"We made a couple of mistakes early," said Forehand. "All the teams that are located close to us are good. Murray State is a solid team."
The Bisons travel to Murray, Ky. Wednesday night for a rematch. Right-hander Jerry Young will start for Lipscomb.
The Bisons are 12-9 overall. Murray State is 7-9.