May 22, 2008
DELAND, Fla. _ The Lipscomb Bisons are down but they aren't out.
Thursday afternoon here at Melching Field at Conrad Park the No.1-seeded Bisons watched an 8-1 lead evaporate into a 9-8 loss to No. 3 seed Belmont. This was the first time the two teams, long-time rivals, had met in the A-Sun Baseball Championship.
The Bisons held a 2-1 regular season advantage against Belmont. But they had not beaten Belmont three times in a season in baseball since 1992.
The Bisons remain alive in the double-elimination tournament. They will play again Friday at 11 a.m. Had Belmont lost they would have been eliminated from the tournament.
The Bisons opened the first inning with three runs as the first three batters connected against Belmont starter Nate Woods.
Jorge Gutierrez started things off as he drove the second pitch of the game up the middle for a ground ball single. Allen Bolden followed with a home run that cleared the 403-foot sign in center field.
In the third inning the Bisons responded with three more runs.
Belmont ended the Bisons scoreless string at 12 innings. In the fourth Carlo Testa scored from third base on a wild pitch by McClurg with two outs and the bases loaded.
The Bisons responded with a run in the fifth as Simpkins led off with a home run to right field.
In the sixth the Bisons added another run with two outs when Sanders doubled into left field to score Gutierrez wbo reached base on a fielding error by Belmont shortstop Packy Elkins. Gutierrez had advanced to third on a single to right field.
Belmont scored three runs in the seventh and might have been in a position to score more had first baseman Ryan Wilkins not combined with Gutierrez and McClurg for a double play.
McClurg was replaced by right-hander Kyle Tognazzini in the seventh with two outs. In the eighth Belmont struck again for five runs to take the lead with six hits.
McClurg gave up seven hits and four runs, all earned. He walked five and struck out two in 6 2/3 innings. Tognazzini scattered five hits and gave up five runs, all earned in two-thirds of an inning. He took the loss, dropping his record to 6-2. Right-hander Chris Burnett closed out the game for the Bisons allowing only one hit and striking out one in the final 1 2/3 innings.
Bolden led the Bisons with three hits. He is batting .545 for the tournament (6-for-11). Joseph, Bratcher and Simpkins each had two hits as the Bisons touched six Belmont pitches for 13 hits.
The Bisons are 29-28. Belmont is 24-32.