NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A little rain and delayed start didn’t dampen the Bisons spirits or their bats as they handed UNC Asheville its second loss in as many days in the season-opening homestand at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium Saturday.
Coming off a 3-2 win over the Spartans in Friday night’s opener, the Bisons were ready for round two Saturday despite rainy weather in Nashville, which pushed the first pitch back two hours from its original start time. They upended UNC Asheville 4-2 in the tilt.
Junior Chris Kachmar took to the mound for his first career start in the Purple and Gold. The first Spartan up to bat, catcher Joe Gruszka, welcomed Kachmar with a homerun down the right field line to put this team up to a quick 1-0 lead.
“The pitching staff is doing what we want them to do, get outs,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “Kachmar was a little anxious at the beginning, but he settled in really good as the game went along and had a solid outing.
“And again, the bullpen was fantastic. They have a great mentality down there and I am excited to see where they can help take us.”
Senior second baseman Lee Solomon was the first Bison up in the bottom of the first inning. He reached base on a walk, and got caught stealing a few plays later to end the hitless inning for his team.
It didn’t take long for the Bisons to get on the scoreboard, though. Catcher Jake Perry started the inning claiming a base after being hit by an errant Spartan Greg Gasparro pitch. Center fielder Josh Martinez reached base on a fielder’s choice. After Perry was out at second, Martinez revved up the engines and stole second. Martinez put the Purple and Gold on the scoreboard with a run after left fielder Tevin Symonette drove a single up the middle to send him home.
The Spartans answered with another run by Gruszka, who scored on an RBI by teammate Joe Zayatz, to take the lead 2-1. But that would be the end of the scoring for UNC Asheville for the night.
After a scoreless fourth inning, the Bisons came back strong in the fifth. Shortstop Blake Thomas started the bottom of the inning off reaching base on a walk. Following a Coleman Goodwin strikeout, Thomas stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Gruszka. Pinch hitter Maddux Houghton, a freshman from Dalton, Georgia, batted in his first career RBI when he singled to left field, sending Thomas home to score a second run for the Bisons.
Locked in a 2-2 tie to start the sixth, the Spartans ended the top of the box with only one hit and no runs. The Bisons came on strong to start the bottom of the inning with a home run by third baseman Zeke Dodson, who has a batting average of .364 through the first two games of the season, to put the Bisons on top 3-2.
Dodson came through again for his team in the bottom of the eighth as he doubled to right field, advancing Cade Sorrells, who had reached base on a walk as the second batter up in the inning, to third. Dodson took advantage of an errant throw by Spartan right fielder Danny Wilson, and make a quick move to third base as Sorrells headed home for an unearned run.
“I knew I was going to get something off-speed I that count, so I am just trying to see a good pitch and get a barrel on it,” Dodson said. “I hit it to right field reading the throw from right field, and he sails it. So we are taught keep running, so fortunately it was able to get us a run in and get me to third.”
This put the Bisons up for good with a 4-2 advantage for the win and a 2-0 start to the season.
Kachmar pitched five innings for the Bisons, allowing three hits, striking out eight batters and committing two walks. His tossed 85 pitches, 52 were strikes.
“I can’t say enough about our pitchers, they have really come out and done everything they are supposed to do,” Dodson said. “The late-inning setup we have has worked phenomenal both days. We have that next-man-up mentality and I feel like every single guys is ready to go.
“Our offense is a little slow right now, but we will pick it up and help the staff out.”
Dodson finished the game with two hits and one RBI. Symonette and Houghton finished the day with one hit and one RBI each, while Solomon had one hit.
The Bisons will take on UNC Asheville in the final game of the three-day series Sunday at 1 p.m. at Dugan Field.
“We have Noah (Thompson) on the mound for his first career start tomorrow,” Forehand said. “I think he will be able to continue the pace the other starters have set this weekend and give us a quality start.
“When that happens, we will be looking at a chance of a sweep.”