NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With just over a handful of runners reaching base on Sunday afternoon, the Lipscomb baseball team failed to push across a run in a 8-0 Atlantic Sun Conference loss to North Florida at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“Every weekend is tough now that we are in conference play and we have to be ready to play every time we go out, doesn’t matter who it is,” Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand said. “North Florida is a great hitting team and they showed that all weekend long.
“It’s like I told the guys, we have a good baseball team, we just didn’t get it done today. When you don’t score a run, you aren’t going to win many ball games”
The rubber game of the series saw North Florida (27-12, 6-3 A-Sun) starter Matt Vaka hold the Bisons’ (20-13, 2-4 A-Sun) lineup in check allowing just two hits and three walks in five innings of work. The freshman righty allowed just three runners to move into scoring position all afternoon as he improved to 2-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.72 this season.
“Vaka did a great job today,” Forehand said. “He doesn’t record a strikeout, but he limited us at the plate and we were unable to capitalize when we got base runners on. You have to tip your hat to him.”
The Ospreys opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the third stanza when third baseman Trent Higginbothem blasted a two-run shot over the 375-foot sign in left centerfield. UNF added a single run in the fourth and sixth innings, before pushing across two more in the eighth on back-to-back RBI-doubles off Lipscomb freshman reliever Brady Puckett.
Lipscomb’s best scoring chance of the day came when trailing by four runs in the sixth inning after Josh Lee drew a one-out walk to load the bases. Redshirt freshman Allan Hooker nearly tied things up when he launched a fly ball to deep right field, but UNF’s Garrick Ferguson made the snag at the base of the wall and then threw a laser to second base to nail Josh Lee trying to advance on the out. The double play ended the scoring threat for the Bisons.
“They made a great play on us,” Forehand said. “We were being aggressive in trying to get two runners into scoring position. We were trying to make a play happen, but it turns out they made a better one. I hate that it happened like that, because it did take us out of a scoring opportunity after we had some momentum going there.”
UNF rounded out the scoring in the top of the ninth with its second two-run home run of the day, this time from senior first baseman Ryan Roberson, his fourth of the season.
Sophomore lefty John Pryor (1-3) took the loss for Lipscomb scattering five hits and three runs in five complete innings pitched. He punched out three Ospreys in 66 pitches thrown.
“John gave us a chance today,” Forehand said. “We were down three runs when he left the game, but we were within striking distance and then we continued to put goose eggs up on the scoreboard. I was proud of how he executed. We just couldn’t get anything going on offense today.”
The Bisons managed just four hits on the day and were led by Grant Massey’s two singles as he finished the game 2-for-4.
- Lipscomb dropped its first home series of the season and its first home conference series since April 26-28, 2013 when Stetson came in and took 2-of-3.
- The Bisons have now dropped their last six regular season series’ to North Florida. The last time Lipscomb held the advantage came in 2009.
- Six of the nine leadoff batters for Lipscomb reached base Sunday.
- Pryor made his first start of the year on Sunday. His five innings pitched and three strike outs were season highs. The southpaw made seven starts a year ago as a freshman.
- Lipscomb left eight runners on base and was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
- Massey recorded his 12th multiple-hit game of the season.
- With two walks in the loss, Josh Lee has now reached base in 12 straight contests.
- The Bisons allowed five home runs in the series. It marked the first time all season Lipscomb gave up a long shot in three consecutive games.
- Saturday marked the fourth time Lipscomb has been shutout on the year.
The Bisons will return to the diamond on Tuesday April 14 when they host Murray State in midweek action at Dugan Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.