Only 26 more to go.
Everything came together for the Lipscomb Bisons Friday afternoon as they beat rival Belmont 12-3 at Shelby Park.
It was the first Atlantic Sun game of the season for the Bisons who are 6-11 overall, 1-0 in the conference. Belmont is 11-7, 0-4 in A-Sun games.
“There are a bunch of conference games, but you like to get off to a good start,” Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand said. “Fortunately, we did.”
The series continues Saturday at 2 p.m. The third game is slated for Sunday at 1 p.m., but could become part of a doubleheader Saturday. Final word on the scheduling will be given until Saturday morning.
The Bisons scored three runs in the first, one in the second, four in the fifth, two in the sixth and two in the eighth.
“I like to see that our offense is finally going,” Forehand said. “When you score a lot of runs it makes up for a lot of inefficiencies that sometimes happen during a ballgame like mistakes on defense. Sometimes a pitcher might get in trouble a little bit, but scoring a lot of runs takes the burden off of everything else.”
Tyler Wilson started it all off in the first when he was safe on a bunt single to second. M.L. Williams singled to third base. Cory Hale was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Zach Messer grounded out to short to bring home Tyler Wilson. Lee Wilson reached base on an error by the first baseman that allowed Williams to score. Ryan Wilkins singled through the left side to sending Hale home.
“The offense cranked up early,” Forehand said. “We got a few bunts down.
“The bottom line is getting those runners in from second and third where we don’t come away with nothing. We did that.”
Messer drove in five runs for the second time this season. He also had five against Canisius March 2. He is tied with Cory Hale for the season game high in RBI. In addition to the RBI in the first he brought in two more with a double to left center in the fifth, one with a double to center in the sixth and another one with a single to left in the eighth.
Messer, M.L. Williams and Lee Wilson each had three hits for the Bisons. The Bisons finished with 14 hits and 12 runs batted in.
Kyle Henry hit a solo home run to left field in the second. Wilkins also added a double.
“Hopefully, everybody is coming into their roles and understanding what they have to do to make the offense click,” Forehand said. “A player doesn’t have to hit the ball out of the park every time.
“Zach got a run in on a ground ball. He has been pressing on getting the ball to the fence. “
Right-hander Josh Smith raised his record to 3-1. He pitched seven innings, allowing five hits and three runs, all earned. He walked four and struck out five.
Belmont scored one run in the third on a double down the left field line by Derek Hamblen. They also added two runs in the fifth, both on a home run to left field by Dylan Craig who led his team with three hits.
The biggest defensive play was by Williams in the fifth. He jumped above the left field fence to snare what would have been a home run by Nate Woods.
“That probably changes the game,” Forehand said. “If that ball goes out of the park the momentum swings to their side. “ Left-hander Alex Ross closed out the game with two scoreless innings. He did give up four hits.
“Starting pitching got us off to a good start,” Forehand said. “We expect Josh to keep us in games every Friday. He doesn’t have to win every game. He has to keep us in games. Hopefully, he can do it 11 or 12 more times.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.