NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With the bottom of the lineup going a combined 7-for-11 and driving in five runs, the Lipscomb baseball team opened the 2013 “Mule Mix Classic” with a 9-5 win over Bradley on Friday night at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium in Nashville.
“The bottom of the lineup was getting it done tonight,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “You look at that as the mark of a good team. When the top of the lineup is not producing on a certain night and the bottom of the lineup does that’s great.”
After the Braves (0-5) manufactured a run in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead, the Bisons (4-1) responded in the third inning with a four-run frame to take a lead that would not be relinquished. Senior catcher Taylor Stewart got the rally started with a one-out single up the middle before fellow senior Lee Wilson walked to put two runners aboard for LU.
Bradley should have gotten out of the inning unscathed after a strikeout and a high chopper hit by senior centerfielder Zach Lowery but the ball short hopped the glove of Tyler Leffler charging in from shortstop and that allowed Stewart to score from third and gave Lipscomb runners on the corners.
Senior third baseman Gray Hutchinson followed by drawing a walk on four-straight pitches before Wilson came home to score and give LU the first lead of the night on a wild pitch. Junior designated hitter Drew Adams followed up Hutchinson’s walk with a single down the left field line scoring Hutchinson and Lowery easily as Lipscomb took a 4-2 lead.
The Bisons kept the offense going in the fourth inning as well as junior left fielder Chad Shannon ledoff the stanza with a walk before sophomore first baseman Tyson Ashcraft singled to right putting runners on the corners. An Ashcraft steal set the table for senior shortstop Aaron Sandoval, who delivered a 2-2 pitch back up the middle to make it a 6-2 lead.
Stewart followed with an infield single that plated Sandoval to make it a 7-2 cushion for the home team.
The Braves would battle back in the fifth with a 3-run frame off of Lipscomb senior starter Josh Cotham to pull within two runs behind a solo home run by Brady Wilkin and taking advantage of a Bison error to score two more.
Bradley pulled within two again in the sixth plating a run against senior sidearm reliever Jordan Zelhart but the veteran closed the door from that point on and picked up the save working the final four innings.
Lipscomb added a pair of insurance measures in the seventh inning when Ashcraft and Sandoval got back-to-back hits to lead off the stanza before Stewart came through again with a single scoring both.
Cotham picked up the win on the hill with a 5-inning performance. The righty allowed two earned runs and five hits while walking four and fanning three. John Nassahan took the loss for Bradley lasting three innings and giving up seven runs, five hits and four walks.
“I thought Josh did a great job of battling through a long first inning and only giving up one run,” said Forehand. “Zelhart came in and did exactly what we needed him to do and help save our bullpen for tomorrow. We’ve got 18 innings and he did a fantastic job of saving the pen.”
The 2013 “Mule Mix Classic” continues on Saturday with Lipscomb taking on Ball State at noon followed by a rematch with Bradley at 4 p.m. at Dugan Field.