NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a baseball game where the box score had Lipscomb winning in nearly every statistical category, the Bisons could not find a way to win in the one that mattered most.
The visiting Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky emerged as the 4-3 victors Tuesday night over the Bisons at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium in nonconference action.
“When I go back and think about this game tonight, it was a very solid contest all around,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “Western Kentucky was able to come up with big hits after getting two quick outs in the sixth and that proved to be the difference.
“We left guys in scoring opportunities all game long, but we couldn’t get them in. We couldn’t get that big hit.”
Freshmen Zeke Dodson and Tevin Symonette both finished the night 2-for-4 at the plate while leading Lipscomb to a 10-8 advantage in hits.
Freshman starter Adam Stewart worked a career best 6.0 innings for the Bisons (20-21). The righty yielded four runs on six hits and struck out five, his second most of the season.
Western Kentucky (23-18) managed to push across the first runs of the game in the top of the second after beginning the frame with three straight base knocks. Right fielder Paul Murray drove in Steven Kraft for the first of his three RBI in the game on a single through the right side before Steven DiPuglia followed with a RBI of his own on a fielder’s choice ground out to give the Toppers a 2-0 lead.
Lipscomb began clawing its way back in the bottom of the third when sophomore second baseman Lee Solomon launched the first pitch of his at-bat over the fence and into the trees in left center field.
The offense continued with back-to-back singles from freshmen Zeke Dodson and Cade Sorrells. Left fielder Tevin Symonette then brought Dodson around with a single to left field to draw the game even at 2-2.
Allan Hooker gave Lipscomb a 3-2 lead when he drove in Sorrells on a fielder’s choice to the first baseman.
Stewart bounced back on the mound to retire the next eight batters to keep the Hilltoppers offense at bay, but after giving up three consecutive two-out hits in the top of the sixth inning, WKU was able to grab the lead back at 4-3 on a Murray single to right field.
The Bisons tried to mount a rally, putting men at third base in the sixth and seventh frames, but they could not come up with the big hit, leading to their 2-for-13 night at the dish with runners in scoring position. Western Kentucky finished 3-for-8.
Down to its final three outs, senior catcher Chucky Vazquez started the ninth off with a free pass. Hunter Hanks then tried to move the tying run to second with a bunt, but the shortstop popped it up foul and the WKU backstop made the catch for the first out of the frame.
Solomon was able to move pinch runner Quinn Moynihan into scoring position in the next at-bat with a ground ball back to the pitcher, but then Adam Lee went down swinging after having a 3-0 advantage in the count.
“We talked about it, and Hunter knows we have to get that bunt down in the ninth,” Forehand said. “We wanted to get him over and give the top of our lineup the chance to get him in. But it was like that all night for us. We just couldn’t get guys in for runs.”
Stewart took the loss and fell to 3-2 on the season, while WKU’s Cody Coll improved to 3-2.
Around the Horn:
- Solomon’s home run was his third of the season.
- Hooker swiped two bags in the defeat, bringing his yearly total to nine.
- Lipscomb stranded eight men on base, while WKU left six.
- Dodson picked up his fifth multi-hit game in his last 12.
- The Bisons fall to 19-7 at home this season.
- Vazquez was the only Lipscomb starter who did not record a base hit.
- Six pitchers came to the mound for Lipscomb on the night. The bullpen combined to allow just three base runners over the final three innings of play.
The Bisons return to action this weekend for a three-game set with Atlantic Sun newcomer NJIT. The series will get under way at 6 p.m. Friday at Dugan Field. Weather could force time changes throughout the weekend so continue to check LipscombSports.com and @BisonBaseball on twitter.
“Tonight we learned some lessons in a loss, that’s not a fun way to do it,” Forehand said. “But we will grow from this and hopefully be ready on Friday against NJIT.”