NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The game ended in the 11th inning, but baseball's version of the "Battle of the Boulevard" probably should have never lasted that long.
Tuesday night at E.S. Rose Park, the Lipscomb Bisons loaded the bases in the first inning with no outs on a walk, a hit batter and a single. But the next two batters struck out. The Bisons would manage one run when Zach Lowery was hit by a pitch before the inning ended on a ground out to third by Gray Hutchinson.
After his Bisons fell 5-4 to Belmont in 11 innings, LU coach Jeff Forehand had to look at the possible “what ifs” based on that first inning.
“In the first inning we had the opportunity to get more than one run,” Forehand said. “If we put up five or six like we had the opportunity to do in the first we wouldn’t have had to worry about the 10th or 11th.”
Belmont scored three runs in the third inning to take the lead with Jared Breen driving in two runs on a single through the left side and another run scoring on a sacrifice fly.
But the Bisons pulled within one in the fifth on a solo home run to left field by Drew Adams, who had two hits in the game.
The Purple and Gold tied the game in the eighth, this time on a solo home run by Tyson Ashcraft.
The game went into extra innings. Ashcraft struck again in the 10th with his second home run of the game to left center. He doubled his home run total for the season and has three homers in his last two games.
“Tyson is a big, strong, powerful guy,” Forehand said. “He is seeing the ball good right now. When you are seeing it good, and hit the ball with authority like he does, the ball is going to go out of the park sometimes.”
But that 4-3 lead would not last long. With Ashcraft on the mound seeking his fourth save of the season Belmont struck back capitalizing on two hits, an error by LU’s center fielder and a passed ball which allowed Dom Veltri to score from third to tie the game.
“We gave them a one base error on a single that put him on second,” Forehand said. “In that situation we have to secure the ball and get it in. They bunt him up and then we have a passed ball that scores a run.
“That is not a formula for success. We put ourselves in that spot. It is our own fault that we didn’t close that game out. When you hit a home run in the 10th you are supposed to win that game or the other team is supposed to beat you. You are not supposed to beat yourself.”
Belmont prevailed in the 11th when Alec Diamond singled through the right side to score Scott Moses who had opened the inning with a single to right center.
“They got us in the 11th,” Forehand said. “They did what they had to do.”
Instead of a save, Ashcraft, the last of six LU pitchers, was credited with the loss evening his record at 2-2. But Forehand had nothing but praise for Ashcraft.
“I can’t say enough about Tyson,” Forehand said. “He has been our guy. He has gotten big base hits to knock runs in. He has come in to save games in the end.
“It was set up for him to do it again tonight. He did everything he had to do to help us win that game. We just didn’t close it out for him.”
The Bisons are 14-28 overall. Belmont is 28-11.
This Friday, Saturday and Sunday the Bisons return to Atlantic Sun action when Stetson visits Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“We have to make sure that we play smarter,” Forehand said. “They already know that, but I want them to make sure they get the message that what happened is not acceptable. We can’t consistently win games doing that. We have to learn from it and move on.”