NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Behind a complete-game performance from senior righty Josh Cotham, the Lipscomb baseball team punched its postseason ticket with a 6-1 Atlantic Sun Conference victory over Kennesaw State on Thursday night at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium in Nashville.
The Bisons (22-32, 11-14 A-Sun) wasted no time getting on the scoreboard against the Owls (26-26, 13-12 A-Sun) with a two-run, two-out rally in the bottom of the first. Junior designated hitter Drew Adams got things started with a walk before senior shortstop Aaron Sandoval also drew a free pass to move Adams into scoring position. Lipscomb then got back-to-back RBI singles by sophomore first baseman Tyson Ashcraft and junior left fielder Chad Shannon to open the scoring.
“We jumped ahead and that let Josh be able to go out there and relax and pitch his game,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “For this to be his last start at Dugan Field it was pretty special and I’m proud of him for what he did tonight.”
Lipscomb freshman second baseman Austin Sistrunk kept the offense going in the second inning as the newcomer hit a soaring home run over the left center wall bringing home senior third baseman Gray Hutchinson, who led off the frame with a base on balls.
“We’ve been a team that’s been driven here for the last 2-3 weeks,” said Forehand. “I feel like we are coming on and playing well at the right time. I think the team sensed the chance to get in the tournament early tonight and took advantage of it.”
The 4-0 cushion held until the fourth inning when Hutchinson opened the frame with a single to right, moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single to left by senior catcher Taylor Stewart. Hutchinson then played a hand in making it a five-run advantage for LU in the next inning when the veteran hit a fly ball to right that was misplayed allowing Ashcraft to score from second.
The Owls attempted a comeback in the top of the ninth pushing across a run to ruin Cotham’s shutout bid but the senior quickly doused the flames to complete the game and clinch the postseason berth.
Cotham picked up the win to improve to 4-5 on the season and 2-1 in the month of May. The veteran allowed the one run in the ninth along with seven hits. Cotham was in control of his command on the night throwing only 93 pitches, 63 of which were for strikes.
KSU’s Travis Dean, the nephew of Nashville mayor Karl Dean, took the loss for the Owls allowing six hits and five earned runs in 3.2 innings of work.
The series continues on Friday night at 6 p.m. at Dugan Field. The Ken Dugan Award will be presented in pregame ceremony to a very deserving member of the team.
“This is what we work for all year long,” said Forehand. “One of our goals is you want to win the league but the second goal is you’ve got to get in your own postseason tournament to be able to do something. There’s been a lot of hard work and dedication spent to get in the tournament and I’m proud of all of the team.”