Senior right-handers Brandon McClurg and Kyle Tognazzini combined for the shutout. McClurg picked up the win as he scattered seven hits, struck out four and walked one in eight innings. Tognazzini came in for the second day in a row in relief, shutting down Mercer in the ninth inning while striking out one.
“McClurg pitched great,” said Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand. “He got in a few jams and worked himself out."
It was the first time Mercer had been shutout since March 31, 2007.
It was the first shutout of the season for the Bisons, 5-5, 2-0 in the conference. It was the second two-run win for the Bisons over Mercer, having beaten them 10-8 Friday. Mercer is 4-6, 0-2 in the A-Sun.
“Every series is so tough,” said Forehand. “Every conference win is vital. You go into every series wanting to win. To be at 2-0 with a chance to win three is just great.
“Mercer has a good team. If the ball bounces a couple of times their way it could be a different story. We know we are fortunate to have a few things happen our way. We have had some good pitching early and some timely hits.”
McClurg evened his record at 1-1. Tognazzini picked up his second save in as many games and his third of the season.
The Bisons scored both of their runs in the seventh inning.
Allen Bolden led off with a single to right field. Justin Sanders was hit by a pitch. Tennyson Dodd walked to load the bases with no outs. Ryan Wilkins flied out to right field to Bolden. Branden Cadavid grounded out to first base to bring in Sanders.
Bolden, Dodd, Cadavid and Tyler Wilson each had a hit for the Bisons. Sandes did not get a hit, ending his string of at least one hit in every game this season.
Forehand praised the work of Mercer starting pitcher Dan April. He threw 8.1 innings and gave up only four hits.
“It was a pitching duel,” Forehand said. “Mercer’s guy had us kind of tied up. We didn’t really threaten until later on.”
Mercer gave the Bisons a scare in the ninth inning. McClurg walked the lead-off man in the inning and then gave up a single up the middle. Mercer loaded the bases with no outs on an infielder error. It was the first time in the game he had allowed a batter to advance past second base.
Tognazzini then entered the game. He needed only six pitches, all strikes, to close out the game. He struck out Casey Stuart, the first batter he faced, swinging and then forced pinch-hitter Nick Adams to hit a grounder to Cadavid at short. Cadavid turned an unassisted double play to end the game.
“We don’t want to use him all the time for too many saves,” said Forehand. “When we get to the ninth we want to give to him when the game is close.
“He is just tough as nails. He came in with bases loaded and no outs and trying to hold on to a 2-0 lead. That’s one of the toughest situations you can face as relief pitcher, but he came in and got us out of the jam.”
The series closes out Sunday at noon with Josh Smith (1-0, 5.73 ERA) opening on the mound for the Bisons.