NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Missed opportunities proved costly for the Lipscomb baseball team as it fell victim 4-3 to Kennesaw State Saturday afternoon in Atlantic Sun Conference action at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
Twice in the late innings Lipscomb had runners at second and third with the opportunity to knot the game, but both times a groundball out killed any momentum the Bisons were building. Lipscomb finished the day just 2-of-11 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base.
“Getting a base hit with runners in scoring position is hard,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “We have been getting those runs in so well in the past that I think everyone is becoming accustomed to that. We liked what we had coming up at that point, but we just couldn’t seem to find a hole.”
The loss dropped the Bisons to 26-14, 6-5 in league play and halted a season-best six-game win streak. Kennesaw State improved to 23-20, 7-6 in the A-Sun.
Junior lefty Travis Bergen threw an eight-inning gem for the Owls, allowing two runs on five hits. He threw struck out six and walked three in 129 pitches thrown. He improved to 5-3 on the season.
Although senior second baseman Mike Korte finished the afternoon with just one hit, he was able to produce two of the three runs for Lipscomb.
The Malabar, Florida native spanked a single through the left side in the second inning to bring home fellow senior Tyson Ashcraft to give the Bisons an early 1-0 advantage.
With the Bisons trailing 3-1 in the seventh with runners at second and third, Korte knocked in Ashcraft once more on a ground out to short.
A leadoff walk in the top of the eighth from the Bisons pitching staff proved to be the difference in the loss. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second, he would come around to score in the next at-bat on a single from KSU left fielder Alex Liquori to make it a 4-2 game.
In the bottom of the ninth junior catcher Chucky Vazquez tried to mount a rally for the Bisons, crushing a leadoff home run over the 375-foot sign in left centerfield to bring Lipscomb within one run. It was the second home run of his Lipscomb career.
Kennesaw State’s closer Will Lowman settled down and sat the next three Bisons down in order to pick up his fifth save of the season.
“I have to give Kennesaw State credit, they made some outstanding defensive plays today when we were rallying to score,” Forehand said. “It was a well-played game, they just made one more play than we did. Now we just have to come back out tomorrow and try to get a win and take the series.”
Lipscomb freshman Jeffrey Passantino (1-1) worked 6.2 stanzas, giving up two earned runs on eight hits. He struck out four and walked one in the loss.
Around the Horn:
- The loss stopped a nine-game regular season win streak against KSU. The last win for the Owls in Nashville before Saturday was April 6, 2012.
- Redshirt junior hurler Jaesung Hwang made his first appearance since April 4 in Jacksonville. He tossed 2.1 frames, gave up one run on two hits with two punch outs and two walks.
- Ashcraft and Vazquez were the only two Bisons with multiple hits on the day. Ashcraft now has two hits in four straight games and six of the last seven.
- The home run from Vazquez was his first since a solo shot March 28 against Georgetown.
- KSU out hit Lipscomb 10-6
The Bisons will try and close out the series with Kennesaw State Sunday at 1 p.m. Lipscomb will then host Middle Tennessee at 6 p.m. Tuesday night at Dugan Field.