May 31, 2008
ATHENS, Ga. _ The Lipscomb Bisons are down, but they aren't out.
Sunday afternoon at 1 the Bisons will face the Georgia Bulldogs, the No. 1 seed, for the second time in three days as they try to stay alive in the Athens Regional.
The Bisons, the No. 4-seed, lost 6-3 to Georgia Tech, the No. 2-seed, Saturday night here at Foley Field on the campus of the University of Georgia. It was the first time the Bisons have faced an Atlantic Coast Conference team.
"Georgia Tech has a good team and everyone here knows that," said Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand. "They got the big hits when they needed them."
Georgia, a 10-7 loser to Lipscomb Friday afternoon, prevented being eliminated with a 9-8 win over Louisville Saturday afternoon. Louisville, the Big East Champion and No. 3 seed, was eliminated with the loss.
A win by the Bisons would pair them up with Georgia Tech again at 5 Sunday.
Georgia Tech struck quickly with three runs in the top of the second inning all off of a home run to left field by Jason Haniger off of Bisons starter Brandon McClurg. It was the 10th home run of the season for Haniger.
"Our game plan was to still be in the game in the late innings," Forehand said. "Brandon gave us the chance to do that. He had that one bad pitch early for the three-run home run but after that he settled down."
The Bisons came back in the home part of the second inning with one run. Left fielder Blake Bratcher walked to lead off the inning. Designated hitter Justin Sanders hit a grounder through the left side for a single. Right fielder Shane Simpkins sacrificed to third to move Bratcher to third and Sanders to second. First baseman Ryan Wilkins was hit by a pitch from Georgia Tech starter Deck McGuire. Third baseman Branden Cadavid grounded out to third, allowing Bratcher to score.
In the bottom of the fifth the Bisons tied the game with two runs. With one out shortstop Jorge Gutierrez reached base on a hit to shallow right field. Center field Allen Bolden singled to right field. Catcher Caleb Joseph popped up to the shortstop.
Bratcher continued his hot hitting hand, pounding a double to deep center that bounced off the fence at the 408-mark scoring Gutierrez and Bolden.
In the seventh with two outs Haniger singled to center field. The hit ended a string of 10 straight outs by McClurg. He had retired 16 of 17 batters prior to Haniger's hit.
In the bottom of the seventh Gutierrez led off with a double that rolled to the fence in left center. With two outs in the seventh Georgia Tech pulled McGuire and replaced him with left-hander Taylor Woods prior to Bratcher, a left-handed hitter, coming to the plate. Bratcher was called out on strikes to end the inning.
"When you have a lead-off double you think you have a chance to get that guy in," Forehand said. "Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way. We will come back Sunday and see if it does."
In the top of the eighth with two outs and runners on first and second, right-hander Kyle Tognazzini relieved McClurg. He gave up a double to right center to Brad Feltes that scored both runners to give Georgia Tech a 5-3 lead. Tognazzini then struck out Thomas Nichols to end the inning.
Georgia Tech added one more run in the ninth.
The Bisons pounded out seven hits. Gutierrez was the only Bisons batter in double figures with two hits.
Georgia Tech collected 11 hits with Charlie Blackmon, Feltes and Haniger each getting two hits.
McClurg threw a solid game for the Bisons, allowing eight hits and five runs in 7.2 innings. He struck out six and walked one. Tognazzini gave up three hits and one run in one inning. Right-hander Chris Burnett closed out the game by striking out the only batter he faced in the ninth.
The loss dropped the Bisons to 33-29. Georgia Tech is 41-19.