May 24, 2008
DELAND, Fla. _ They don't know which team it will be. They don't know when the game will be played.
The only certain thing right now is that the Lipscomb Bisons will be playing for their first ever Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship.
The Bisons, the No. 1 seed, beat Gardner-Webb, the No. 4-seed, 8-2 Saturday afternoon here at Melching Field at Conrad Park. It was the first tournament loss for Gardner-Webb.
Who the Bisons will play and when are both unknown at this point. Belmont and Gardner-Webb were scheduled to play at 2 Saturday. If Belmont wins that game then they will meet the Bisons Saturday night at 6 CDT for the championship and the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
However, if Gardner-Webb beats Belmont the championship game would be delayed until Sunday. NCAA rules will not allow a baseball team to play three games in one day.
If the Bisons win the tournament championship they would be the first No. 1 seed to accomplish that feat since UCF did it in 2002. They are just the third team under the six-team format adopted in 1996 to advance to Championship Saturday in only their second tournament appearance. The others are Florida Atlantic and Troy, both former members of the conference.
The Bisons struck first in the second inning with one run. With one out designated hitter Justin Sanders singled to left center. Right fielder Shane Simpkins reached on a fielder's choice that moved Sanders to second. After first baseman Ryan Wilkins lined out to left, third baseman Branden Cadavid singled up the middle to send Sanders home.
In the fourth the Bisons twice loaded the bases, scoring two runs. Sanders opened with a single up the middle to center field. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Simpkins. Wilkins walked and Cadavid struck out. Second baseman Ben Williams walked to load the bases. Shortstop Jorge Gutierrez walked to bring in Sanders. Center fielder Allen Bolden singled to first base as Wilkins scored.
Gardner-Webb answered with one run in the bottom of the fourth and another in the fifth.
Sanders slammed a 345-foot home run over the right field fence in the bottom of the fifth. Also scoring on the round-tripper was Caleb Joseph who drove a line drive into center for a single.
In the eighth Ryan Wilkins blasted a solo home run that traveled an estimated 425 feet over the center field fence. Prior to giving up the round-tripper Gardner-Webb pitcher
Joseph hit the Bisons third home run of the game with a 335-foot shot to left field in the ninth inning that also brought home Bolden who had walked with one out.. It was the 16th home run of the season for Joseph, moving him back into a tie for second place in the A-Sun.
Right-hander Josh Smith started on the mound for the Bisons, winning his third game of the season against three losses. He pitched seven complete innings and gave up seven hits. He struck out three and walked four.
Right-hander Chris Burnett opened the eighth inning for the Bisons, his second appearance in the tournament. He gave up two hits and no runs in two innings. He also struck out one batter.
The Bisons are 31-28. Gardner-Webb slipped to 28-29.