The Bisons shook off a three-game losing streak Friday night with a 5-3 decision over non-conference foe Illinois State.
Lipscomb senior Josh Smith mirrored his performance from last Friday night with another 15 strikeout outing. Smith has now had two consecutive complete game victories on the mound for the Bisons. The senior leader credited his pitching coach Tyler Shrout as well as the Bisons defense for the win.
“Coach Shrout did an excellent job calling pitches,” Smith said. “I had a pretty good run on my fastball tonight. Just being around the zone all night tonight, I think that’s what it was.”
The Bisons offense delivered 12 hits from seven different batters to score five runs. Senior lead-off batter Tyler Wilson led Lipscomb with three hits and one RBI while junior Zach Messer batted in two runs off two hits. The only homerun in the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning on a solo lead-off shot by Bison senior Andrew Nickerson over the left field wall. It was Nickerson’s second homerun of the year.
Lipscomb scored one run in the first and sixth innings while their biggest production came during a three-run third inning.
The Bisons carried a two-run lead into the top of the ninth with Illinois State’s third baseman Ryan Court to lead off. Court doubled on a line drive that deflected off the glove of Bisons third baseman Cory Hale. However, Smith showed composure and came away with three consecutive strikeouts to close the game.
“I just kind of went out there with that mindset,” Smith said. “You know we were up two in the ninth so even if that guy [Court] scores, it’s not really a big deal because we still have one to work with. I just made pitches and got through it.”
Smith threw 137 pitches, giving up only seven hits and one walk. Both teams only committed one error. After the game, Bisons head coach Jeff Forehand said the win was a team effort but Smith deserved credit for another reliable performance.
“When Josh is on the mound we feel really good about it,” Forehand said. “We didn’t even think about going to the bull-pin. He is strong and he won’t pitch again until next Friday. Fifteen strikeouts and one walk, he is our guy and we are going to let him go.
“He is the leader of the staff, and he comes out and gives us a quality start every time.”
Illinois State started Corey Maines who pitched seven complete innings before being relieved by Matt Werderitch in the eighth inning. Mainse entered Friday night’s contest with a 3-1 record and 2.08 ERA. He gave up 11 hits and four earned runs while striking out five Bison batters.
The Bisons will face Illinois State in a double-header tomorrow at Ken Dugan Field starting at noon. Forehand said he hopes a shift in tomorrow’s pitching rotation might be able to keep the momentum swinging in Lipscomb’s favor.
“We are going to switch the rotation up a little bit,” Forehand said. “We are going to go with [Davey] Hackett first to see if we can keep the momentum going from the weekend. We have tried a lot of things in game two, and hopefully this can be something we can work on, and we can see if this is the right thing for when conference starts next weekend.”
Complete audio coverage of tomorrow afternoon’s double-header can be heard on Lipscombsports.com.
Written by Benjamin Seamon of the Lipscomb Athletic Media Relations Office