May 22, 2008
DELAND, Fla. _ There is the smell of smoke in the air as wild fires burn hundreds of acres only a few miles away.
Thursday's gentle rain is expected to escalate into thunderstorms as the weather heats up during the day Friday.
Amid all of this the Lipscomb Bisons baseball team will deal with a drama of their own Friday morning at 10 a.m. CDT here at Melching Field at Conrad Park.
The Bisons will face No. 5 seed and tournament host Stetson. If the Bisons lose they start packing for home. A win keeps their hopes of winning the 30th edition of the Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship alive.
If the Bisons win they will play again Friday at 6 p.m. CDT.
The No. 1 seeded Bisons, a 14-0 winner in round one over No. 6 seeded Campbell, slipped into the loser's bracket when a late rally by No. 3 seed Belmont turned an 8-1 lead into a 9-8 loss.
Stetson lost late Thursday night to No. 4 seeded Gardner-Webb by a score of 10-6.
"We have to regroup," said Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand. "Hopefully, we can bounce back. We can't think about this loss too long."
The Bisons won two of three games against Stetson on the road this season with a 4-1 win April 4, a 12-6 loss April 5 and an 11-9 win April 6.
Mercer, the No. 2 seed, has already been eliminated. Gardner-Webb, in its last season as a member of the Atlantic Sun, is the only team in the tournament without a loss.
Forehand and pitching coach Lantz Wheeler couldn't wait to return to their hotel rooms to talk about strategy Thursday night. They were seen sitting on luggage carts in the lobby going over statistics.
The key word for the Bisons will be momentum. Once they get it, they can't allow it to be taken away.
"We have talked about that all year," Forehand said. "When we lose the momentum like that we have to get it stopped. Against Belmont we didn't get it stopped quickly enough.
"The score is 8-1 and you think you are doing pretty well. They didn't really hit the ball hard, but they put up three in the seventh and five in the eighth. We didn't close it out. We will have to do that against Stetson."
Stetson, the host team, won the tournament in 2005 and 2006. The Hatters are the only host team to accomplish that feat since 1993.
The Bisons are 29-28 overall. Stetson is 26-32.