It’s hard to say where Friday night’s 10-6 win over Fresno State at Beiden Field ranks among the signature wins for the Lipscomb Bisons in the past two seasons, but beating the defending College World Series Champion is no small feat.
“You’ve got to know that it is great to beat the defending national champion,” said Bisons coach Jeff Forehand. “The atmosphere was a little more heightened than usual. It was more like what we experienced late last season.
“But you have to keep it in perspective. We played in a tough atmosphere against a really good team and we came out on top.”
It wasn’t an easy trip.
The Bisons spotted Fresno State a one run lead in the first inning.
But in the third inning the Bisons responded with five runs only to give up three in the bottom part of the third.
Antonio Butler led off with an infield single to second base. M.L. Williams followed with an infield single to the shortstop. Tyler Wilson was then hit by a pitch to load the bases, Justin Sanders reached base on a fielder’s choice as Wilson was thrown out at second, but the play allowed Butler to score.
Tennyson Dodd grounded out to the shortstop to send Williams across the plate. Branden Cadavid singled to right field to drive in Sanders. Ryan Wilkins doubled to right center to plate Cadavid. Jay Moreland then singled to center to send Wilkins home.
In the fifth Fresno State tied the game at 5-5 with one run.
The Bisons added one run in the eighth to take a 6-5 lead.
Allen Bolden started off with an infield single to second. Butler struck out, but Bolden stole second in a botched pick-off attempt. M.L. Williams flied out to right field, moving Bolden to third. Wilson singled through the left to score Bolden.
Again Fresno State came back with a run in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 6-6.
“Allen Bolden was walking around and talking to everyone in the dugout and telling them that all we needed in the ninth was a chance to win the game,” said Forehand. “I guess he has been around me so much that he has heard everything I have to say.”
With one out in the ninth, Wilkins and Moreland singled. Then fittingly Bolden sealed the deal with a three-run home run to right field. But the Bisons weren’t through. Butler doubled to left center and Andrew Nickerson singled up the middle to score Butler.
“It was Allen’s game,” said Forehand.
California native Kyle Tognazzini came in and pitched the eighth and ninth innings, picking up the win in front of several friends and relatives. Tognazzini, 2-1, gave up one unearned run and struck out three.
Rex Brothers started the game for the Bisons and pitched six innings. He gave up four hits and five runs, four of them earned. He also struck out 11 batters, two short of his career high, while walking five.
Matt Bowling relieved in the seventh and did not allow a run on one hit. He also had one strikeout.
“Rex didn’t have his best stuff,” said Forehand. “But he still kept us in the game. He threw his best in the latter part of his time on the mound.
“Matt came in held it for us in the seventh. Then we handed it to Tognazzini in the eighth to finish it up.”
The Bisons pounded Fresno State pitchers Jake Floethe and Zac Bischoff for 18 hits, a season high. Wilkins and Butler led the team with three hits apiece. M.L. Williams, Sanders, Moreland and Bolden each had two hits.
“We were hoping that we could continue to hit like we had been the last few games,” said Forehand.
The four-game series continues Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 4:05 with Brandon McClurg and Josh Smith starting for the Bisons. Charles Williams will be on the mound Sunday at 3:05 to close out the series.
The Bisons are 13-10 overall. Fresno State is 10-10.
The games with Fresno State can be heard on the radio by going to http://www.kmj580.com/pages/main.