So it is a little surprising that this weekend when North Florida visits for a three-game Atlantic Sun Conference series that the Bisons will be shaking up their pitching rotation.
“This the first change we have made in the rotation this season,” Bisons’ pitching coach Tyler Shrout said. “Coach Forehand doesn’t like change. That is what makes him such a good coach.”
Friday night left-hander Blake Fonfara (0-0, 3-.97 earned run average) will be making his 11th appearance of the season, but his first start. Fonfara replaces right-hander Richie Goodenow (0-5, 5.75 ERA, one save) as the Friday night starter.
“We want to win 27 innings, not just the first inning,” Shrout said. “We have to start by winning the first one and Blake gives us a chance early.”
Fonfara’s last two outings have been solid. He pitched two scoreless innings against Tennessee March 23. He scattered three hits and struck out three.
Friday night at Jacksonville he pitched five innings in relief in a 10-5 loss. He gave up six hits and two runs, both earned. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
“He had the most impressive outing of his career in the Jacksonville game,” Shrout said. “Coach Forehand is going with the hot hand on the mound. With him pitching five innings on Friday it puts him right on schedule to throw a lot of pitches this Friday night.”
Goodenow transferred from Vanderbilt to Lipscomb to be a starting pitcher. He spent his time at Vanderbilt as a reliever, starting only one game.
“Richie has been very mature,” Shrout said. “He understands why we are making a move. He also understands if we are going to be where we need to be this season he is going to be our best pitcher no matter what role he is in.
“It’s not like we are losing Richie on weekends. He could pitch one or two times over the weekend in relief. The innings are all the same whether you start him or relieve with him.”
Game time Friday night is 6 p.m. at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen Lee Marsh Stadium. Saturday’s game will start at 2 and Sunday’s game begins at 1.
The Bisons are 10-15 overall, 2-4 in the conference. They have won their last three games.
North Florida is 14-12 record. The Ospreys are 6-6 in the A-Sun after opening conference play with a 1-5 record. North Florida swept Belmont his past weekend.
North Florida is 9-6 overall against the Bisons, but 3-3 at Ken Dugan Field.
Right-hander Connor Sinclair (2-3, 2.15 ERA) will remain as the Saturday starter for the Bisons.
Sunday’s starter is yet to be announced. Goodenow could move into that slow based on if he is needed in a relief role Friday and Saturday. Another possibility is left-hander Chris Nunn (2-2, 3.07 ERA) who has been used as a mid-week starter. Right-hander Dannie Strable (2-3, 6.23 ERA), who has been the Sunday starter all season, could get another chance to retain his job.
“Anything could change Sunday,” Shrout said. “Chris Nunn had a good outing against MTSU. He has a lot of confidence.
“Chris is starting to get more consistent. He has faced some tough competition in mid-week games, probably tougher than what some of the other guys have faced on weekends with teams like Mississippi State and Tennessee.”
The biggest concern for Nunn is to limit his walks.
“Chris always seems to get into a big inning by walking a batter or two and not being able to stop the momentum and get back on track,” Shrout said. “He has a lot better command of his pitches than he did a year ago at this time. He is getting better and better.”
No matter who pitches for the Bisons, they are going to be facing one of the top offensive teams in the conference in North Florida. Six Ospreys are batting .300 or better. North Florida is second in the A-Sun with a .313 batting average.
North Florida plans to start left-hander Robbie Collier (2-2, 3.62 ERA) Friday. Saturday the Ospreys will send right-hander Kyle Westwood (2-1, 2.68 ERA) Saturday night. North Florida has also not announced a pitcher for Sunday.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.