March 23, 2012123456789RHE
Win: SINCLAIR (3-1) 6.262233
Loss: BARKER (2-2) 4.095424
BOYD (MER) 312121
WILSON (LIP) 513100
Baseball perseveres against Mercer in series opener
Friday, March 23, 2012
Baseball perseveres against Mercer in series opener
Sandoval drove in a pair of early runs for the Bison

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Determined to not let a fast start by Mercer or a lengthy rain delay ruin the night, the Lipscomb baseball team downed the Bears 7-2 in Atlantic Sun Conference action on Friday night at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium in Nashville.

Mercer (16-8, 1-3 A-Sun) started things off with a bang as leadoff man Evan Boyd lifted a fly ball to left that on most days would be a routine fly ball but the persistent wind gusts carried the ball over the fence for a leadoff homer.  Mercer’s Nick Backlund then made it a 2-0 lead for the visitors as he launched his eighth long ball of the season.

“I really have to commend our team,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand.  “They stuck with it.  Connor (Sinclair) pitched his way out of the first inning and came back after the rain delay.  That’s a lot to ask a guy but he’s a senior and a guy that we depend on a lot.

“Our bullpen stepped up huge and (Aaron) Sandoval played great defense and got some timely hits.”

The Bison (8-13, 1-3 A-Sun) would then cut the lead in half in the second as freshman first baseman Griffin Moore ripped a leadoff double to right field before coming home to score on a double down the left field line by Sandoval.

It would be Sandoval again, who would draw Lipscomb even two frames later in the fourth with a single to right field that plated senior second baseman Zak Messer after the veteran launched his 10th double of the season to start the stanza.

The fifth inning would prove to be the difference in the contest as Lipscomb took the first lead of the night with a three-run frame before the skies opened.  Junior backstop Taylor Stewart led the inning off with a double to left before junior designated hitter Ricky Coleman walked to give the Bison two aboard.  Junior right fielder Lee Wilson put Lipscomb out in front with a single to left that scored Stewart.

A failed pickoff attempt moved Coleman and Wilson both into scoring position before a wild pitch moved both runners up an additional 90 feet allowing Coleman to cross the dish and make it a 4-2 lead.  Senior left fielder M.L. Williams then made it a 5-2 lead bringing Wilson home with a single to centerfield.

Messer then drew a walk to keep the rally going but Mother Nature decided it was time to stop the momentum and the floodgates opened resulting in a 79-minute rain delay.  With the delay, Mercer went to the bullpen and Morgan Pittman and David Teasley combined to get the Bears out of the jam and end the lengthy frame.

Having tossed a solid first five innings, senior righty Connor Sinclair (3-1) got the nod from Forehand to go back out even after the delay and the veteran responded by going back out and throwing another one and two-thirds innings to finish the night with six and two-thirds innings on the hill to earn the win.   Sinclair allowed only the two first-inning homers and scattered four other hits while walking three and fanning three.

The Bison bullpen then shut down the Bears the rest of the way as Tyler Burstrom, Hunter Brothers and Gil Rehwinkel combined to toss the final two and one-thirds innings giving up one hit and one walk, while striking out three.

The two teams battle again on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Dugan Field.  Lipscomb junior southpaw Blake Fonfara is slated to go up against fellow lefty Brandon Love for Mercer.