FT MYERS, Fla. –Propelled by a 3-run, eighth-inning rally, the Lipscomb baseball team downed top-seeded Florida Gulf Coast 5-4 in the second round of the 2014 Atlantic Sun Conference Baseball Championship at Swanson Stadium.
The Eagles (37-21) wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as Lipscomb (32-26) redshirt-junior righty Hunter Brothers struggled to find the strike zone issuing free passes to the first two FGCU batters he faced. FGCU would push across a pair of runs on a double just past the dive of freshman third baseman Hunter Hanks and then another run on a passed ball.
The Bisons got on the scoreboard first in the fourth inning with a lone run to end the shutout bid for FGCU starter Brady Anderson. Senior right fielder Drew Adams got the frame started with a scorching base hit back up the middle before moving to third base on another single back up the box by junior designated hitter Tyson Ashcraft.
That set the table for redshirt-junior left fielder Josh Lee, who delivered a high fly ball into foul ground inside the right-field fence for an easy sacrifice fly.
A FGCU error to open the sixth inning would lead to the second run of the night for the Purple and Gold as Zack Tillery dropped a Jonathan Allison pop up and good hustle by the junior centerfielder saw him wind up on second base to open the frame thanks to the miscue. A perfectly executed bunt by Adams moved Allison up to third before he came home on a groundout to second by Ashcraft.
After missing a scoring chance in the seventh inning after getting two runners on, it looked like history might repeat itself in the eighth as Lipscomb got two on with two out but Josh Lee had a different idea coming through when it mattered most. The Franklin, Tennessee native ripped a ball through the left side of the infield and Adams just beat a throw to the plate to tie the game at three.
Josh Lee was able to move up to second on the throw to the plate and Hanks scooted up to third having previously walked in the stanza. That set things up for redshirt-freshman catcher Tyler Bethune and the A-Sun All-Freshman team selection delivered a smash right back up the middle to score both Lee and Hanks to give the Bisons the first lead of the night at 5-3.
“That was the inning right there where we had to make something happen,” said Forehand. “Josh Lee had a tough play last night and he came back and got the big hit tonight to tie the game up. Any team at this point of the year you are going to have to have some clutch hitting and pitching.
“I think you say that for most teams that are playing well at the end of the season. We for sure did it today and I’m proud of them. We’ll enjoy this one for a little while and get back after it tomorrow.”
The Eagles refused to go quietly however pushing across a run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly to make it a one-run game again
Lipscomb junior southpaw Nick Andros relieved Brothers in the fifth with two on and no out and managed to wiggle the Bisons out of the jam. Andros would go on to pick up the win working the final five innings.
“I can’t say enough about Nick when he came into the game,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “That was just a solid performance by him picking us up in the fifth inning and carrying us all the way through, just a great, great job by him.”
The southpaw allowed three hits, one earned run and one walk while striking out eight batters including six in a row at one point during the game.
Anderson took the loss on the hill for FGCU giving up eight hits and four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings of work.
The Bisons will have Friday off and will take on the winner of the elimination game between FGCU and Jacksonville on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. at Swanson Stadium.