In an effort to shake the mid-week doldrums for his Bisons he chose to use seven pitchers in Tuesday night’s game against Middle Tennessee State at windy Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium. The plan worked as the Bisons held on for a 9-7 win their first mid-week win of the season.
It was the fourth straight win for the Bisons who had swept their three-game weekend series with Stetson.
“We chose a different approach to try to get some guys some confidence and get them some innings,” said Forehand. “None of them had to chew off a whole big chunk of the game and it worked how well for us.”
Freshman Davey Hackett started the game and pitched two innings. Martin Grude and Jordan Baron each pitched one inning. Jerry Young threw 1.2 followed by Matt Bowling with 1.1 and Charles Williams with one. Kyle Tognazzini picked up his six save of the season as he closed out the game in the ninth.
Williams, 1-4, picked up his first win of the season.
“Hackett didn’t have to try to pitch six or seven innings,” said Forehand. “We wanted him to go out and relax and get us two innings and push it off to someone else. We went down through guys who needed to get some work. We came out with Togs in the end in a situation where we had to get the last few outs.”
Forehand said the approach may be one he repeats in mid-week games, especially when the Bisons play two of them in the same week.
“It might be something where we pattern it out,” said Forehand. “In this game, if it had gone extra innings, we would have had to use Clay Lehning.
“Every time you play you want to win the game. We kind of pre-scripted what we wanted to do. It just worked out right. That is how the game goes sometimes.”
The Bisons took the early lead with one run in the second inning. With two outs and two runners on base Allen Bolden singled to score Branden Cadavid who reached base after he had been hit by a pitch.
Middle Tennessee scored two runs in the fourth, but the Bisons came back with four runs in the bottom of the fifth for a 5-3 lead.
Bolden led off the fifth with a walk and then stole second. With one out, M.L. Williams hit a single to center to score Bolden. Tyler Wilson then singled up the middle. M.L. Williams took third on a wild pitch. Justin Sanders homered to left center, bringing home Wilson and M.L. Williams with the big hit.
It was the fifth home run of the season for Sanders, who finished with two hits. He has an 11-game hitting streak, the longest of the season and has hits in 20-of-22 games this season. It was his ninth multi-hit game and his sixth multi-RBI game, both team highs.
Middle Tennessee answered with two more runs in the sixth to trail 5-4. They added one run in the seventh to tie the game.
In the eighth the Bisons struck again for four more runs. With one out Ryan Wilkins walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Josh Smith, one of the top starting pitchers for the Bisons, pinch hit for Logan Hostettler and struck out. Bolden was then intentionally walked. Antonio Butler doubled to right field for score Wilkins and Bolden. Andrew Nickerson, who had entered the game as a defensive replacement, slammed a home run to left field, his first of the season.
“When Antonio comes up in that situation he is not supposed to show any power, but he has the confidence that he is going to be able to put the bat on the ball. This time it went for a double.
“Nickerson has been swinging the bat really well in practice. He gets one pitch and really squares it up. I was awfully proud of him coming in there and getting a big hit.”
Middle Tennessee added two more runs in the top of the ninth, but fell short of turning the game around.
“Middle is such a good team,” said Forehand. “They have been hitting the ball so well. They are a solid team. No lead is really safe against them.” The Bisons, 12-10, head to Fresno State this weekend for four games Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Fresno State is the defending NCAA College World Series Champion.
Middle Tennessee fell to 17-4 with the loss.