NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb baseball team was one strike away twice from evening the season series 2-2 against Bradley, but the Braves refused to quit and mounted a ninth-inning, two-run rally to claim a 11-10 win over the Bisons on Sunday afternoon at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium in Nashville.
In a game that saw four lead changes, 21 combined runs and 28 combined hits, both teams came out strong offensively. Bradley (8-9) opened up the contest by plating a run in the top of the first without getting a hit thanks to three walks and a fielder’s choice.
The Bisons (7-14) answered right back in the bottom of the first with a two-run frame to take the lead. Junior designated hitter Drew Adams drew a one-out walk before senior shortstop Aaron Sandoval singled through the right side to put runners on the corners. A wild pitch would then move Sandoval into scoring position for sophomore third baseman Noah Chandler, who singled through the left side of the infield and put Lipscomb on top.
A defensive miscue by Lipscomb would lead to a pair of runs for the Braves in the top of the second as Bradley answered right back. The score would hold there until the fourth when a reversed call would prove critical in the final outcome of the game.
The Braves opened the four-run frame with a leadoff homer by Isaac Smith but the controversy would come on the next batter. Bradley leadoff man Nolan Sponsler ripped a line drive right down the third base line that third-base umpire Cederic Coleman initially called a foul ball.
A vehement protest ensued from the Bradley third-base coach and after a lengthy conference between the umpiring crew, Sponsler was awarded second base and would score on the very next play. Before the inning was over, the Braves would send four runners home to take a 7-2 lead.
The Braves would add another run in the fifth before the Lispcomb bats came alive again in the bottom of the stanza. Sandoval got the rally started with a one-out double down the left-field line before senior center fielder Zach Lowery singled to left scoring Sandoval easily.
A double by Chandler gave the Bisons two men in scoring position and both would come home on an overthrow of first base by the Braves shortstop on a grounder by junior left fielder Chad Shannon to cut the lead to 8-5.
After a scoreless sixth inning, Lowery opened the seventh with a blast to left field that cleared the batting practice cages and likely landed on Granny White Pike. Sophomore first baseman Tyson Ashcraft kept the momentum going with a one-out single to shortstop before Shannon singled through the left side to put two aboard for the Purple and Gold.
Senior catcher Taylor Stewart followed with a ball to third that was too hot to handle and he reached second via an error that allowed Ashcraft to score and Shannon to move up to third. That set the table for senior right fielder Lee Wilson, who hit a bloop hit just over the mound. The Bradley middle infielders collided trying to get to the ball allowing Stewart to score all the way from second and putting the Bisons up 9-8.
Wilson then took second on a failed pickoff attempt and came home to score three batters later when Sandoval singled making it a 10-8 lead.
The Braves would trim that lead back to one run in the eighth making the Bisons pay for a leadoff walk that came around to score on a sacrifice fly.
The top of the ninth would prove to be the difference despite the Braves getting down to their last strike on two occasions. Pinch hitter Paul Solka drove a 1-2 pitch through the left side of the infield to extend the game. A four-pitch walk by Isaac Smith moved Solka into scoring position before Sponsler singled to third base and an errant throw allowed Solka to tie the game and moves Smith to third.
Mike Tauchman then proved to be the hero of the game for the Braves sending a single to centerfield that scored Smith easily and won the game.
Redshirt freshman Geordie Carlson took the loss on the hill for the Bisons after working the final two innings. Carlson allowed one earned run and three hits while issuing one walk. Andy Johnson got the win for the Braves with a perfect final two innings including three strikeouts.
Lowery, Sandoval and Wilson each contributed three hits to go 9-for-14 but the rest of the Lipscomb lineup combined to go 4-for-26 in the loss.
The Bisons hit the road on Wednesday on for a midweek tilt at Western Kentucky before returning home next weekend to open Atlantic Sun Conference play against North Florida.