FORT MYERS,Fla. – Getting all three phases of the game in synch, the Lipscomb baseball team downed Atlantic Sun Conference foe Florida Gulf Coast 5-2 on Friday afternoon at Swanson Field in Fort Myers.
Notching the first win in seven previous tries, the Bisons (10-18, 2-3 A-Sun) got a seven-inning outing out of redshirt sophomore Hunter Brothers and a near perfect performance from senior reliever Tyler Burstrom to hand the Eagles (17-6) just their sixth loss of the season.
“It’s been a long time coming down here and not getting a win,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “It’s a big win for us against the 26th-ranked team in the country.
“Hunter pitched like we felt that he could in the first five or six weeks of the season and finally gave us a great performance this afternoon. Then Burstrom was ready to do his thing and close it out. I’m proud of him too.”
Lipscomb got the offense going early with senior catcher Taylor Stewart punching a single through the left side before fellow senior Aaron Sandoval drew a six-pitch walk to move Stewart into scoring position. Senior centerfielder Zach Lowery then opened the scoring in the contest with a single of his own between third and short that plated Stewart and gave the Bisons a 1-0 lead right out of the gate.
A one-out walk and a double by FGCU in the third got Brothers into his first jam of the afternoon and the Eagles would push across a pair of runs in the third behind a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly to take a 2-1 advantage.
That lead would hold until the fifth inning when the Bisons would pull ahead with a four-run frame and never look back. Junior right fielder Drew Adams opened the stanza with a walk ahead of Stewart, who tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt. FGCU starter Brandon Bixler fielded the bunt and wheeled to try and nab Adams at second but Bixler’s throw hit the dirt and skirted into centerfield giving LU runners on the corners.
That set the table for Sandoval and the veteran delivered a perfect bunt on a safety squeeze that found everyone safe as Adams scored and Stewart moved up to second. A wild pitch sent both runners into scoring position for sophomore designated hitter Tyson Ashcraft and the second-year player delivered a single back up the box to break the 2-2 tie and put the Bisons ahead.
Ashcraft followed up his base hit with a swipe of second base that would prove to be instrumental in the next play as sophomore second baseman Noah Chandler singled to center. With no one covering first base, Chandler took off for second as the throw came in to prevent Ashcraft from scoring. The Eagles cut the throw off and Chandler tried to retreat back to first unsuccessfully but Ashcraft scampered home giving Lipscomb the 5-2 lead.
With the lead in tow, Brothers went back to work and shut down the Eagles in the sixth and seventh before handing the ball over to Burstrom to start the eighth.
Notching six strikeouts on the afternoon, Brothers picked up his third win of the season allowing five hits and two earned runs along with a quartet of walks. Burstrom earned his first save of the year allowing one hit and fanning a pair of Eagles.
Due to an early flight back to the “Music City” for the Bisons, Saturday’s rubber game of the series gets underway at 9 a.m. at Swanson Field.