NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A six-run fourth inning proved to be the difference on Saturday afternoon at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium, as the Lipscomb baseball team dropped the season opener 8-2 to Evansville.
“Evansville is going to win a lot of games on Friday’s this year with (Kyle) Freeland throwing,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “They played solid defense, had some good situational hitting and are a well-coached team.”
The Bisons (0-1) drew first blood in the contest in the third inning when senior right fielder Drew Adams laced an RBI single that brought home junior second baseman Mike Korte, who ledoff the inning with a single through the right side and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior catcher Nick Rome.
“We had an opportunity there to have a big inning and only got one run,” said Forehand. “We executed pretty well today with what we were trying to do offensively. We wanted to get Freeland’s count high and were hoping that we would be able to get to the bullpen in the fourth or fifth and we did that.”
The Purple Aces (1-0) would answer right back with the six-run frame in the top of the fourth to take control of the contest. A one-out walk and subsequent back-to-back doubles by Evansville opened the scoring when Eric McKibban and Kevin Kaczmarksi came across the plate to take a 2-1 lead.
Lipscomb redshirt-senior starter Jacob Knott then issued back-to-back walks to load the bases and end his afternoon on the hill. The Purple Aces then jumped out in front 5-1 when leadoff man Jake Mahon laced a double into the left center gap clearing the bases. Mahon then made it a 6-1 contest coming across the plate on a single through the left side by Kyle Pollock.
That would be all the cushion Kyle Freeland, a highly touted draft prospect, would need. The southpaw would pick up the win working five full innings and allowing two earned runs and two hits while fanning six. Knott took the loss for the Bisons allowing five earned runs, three hits and four walks.
Evansville’s Brent Jurecka picked up the save in relief for the Purple Aces working the final four innings allowing three hits and a walk.
Lipscomb added a run in the fifth when Rome blasted a shot through the left side of the infield that allowed Korte to score from second. Evansville then added two runs in the seventh off redshirt-junior reliever Hunter Brothers to round out the scoring.
The bright spot of the pitching corps for the day for Lipscomb was junior college transfer Ian Martinez-McGraw, who worked the final three innings for the Purple and Gold allowing three hits while fanning four.
“Ian’s a competitor and a strike thrower,” said Forehand. “Every ball he throws moves. He’s going to be good for us in that kind of relief opportunity.”
Korte finished the afternoon as the only Bison with two hits going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored in his Lipscomb debut.
“We did everything we needed to do today except shut down the fourth inning and allowed the six spot,” said Forehand. “If we cut that in half then we’ve got more of a ball game at the end when we have opportunities to score.”
The Bisons continue home action on Sunday afternoon against Evansville with a doubleheader slated to begin at Noon.