NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Most fans who watched the final game of the series between Lipscomb and USC Upstate will point to the two missed pitches.
But there was much more to the game, a 6-3 win in 11 innings for the Spartans. In the opening Atlantic Sun series for both teams Upstate prevailed 2-1. Lipscomb is 15-14, 1-2 in the conference. Upstate is 25-4, 2-1 in the A-Sun.
“There were so many other things in the game,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “There were a lot of other miscues. We made four errors. We made a couple of base-running mistakes.
“There are a lot of moments that we are going to look back on in this game that are going to be frustrating. We have to learn from them and get better. I loved the fight I saw from our team his weekend. Now it comes down to execution.”
The two missed pitches, one each from starter Kelly Young and reliever Tanner Sanders, were both made to Ryan Rector. After Brittany Case walked with one out in the sixth, Rector hit a pitch from Young over the right center field fence.
That home run erased a 2-0 Lipscomb lead. In the fourth inning Sarah Higgins walked with one out. Baylee Williams then blasted a home run to left field.
In the 11th inning Rector struck again, hitting a grand slam to center field against Sanders, to give the Spartans a 6-2 lead.
“We liked what we got out of Kelly and Tanner, but there were two misses and you can’t miss to a great hitter in those situations,” Ryman said. “Those are things we are going to have to continue to learn.”
Lipscomb would fight back in the bottom of the 11th. Abby Fenichel was placed on second to start the inning. Higgins singled to left to move Fenichel to third. Williams flied out deep to left field to score Fenichel.
Young pitched 6.2 innings. She gave up three hits. Both runs she allowed were earned. She struck out six, walked three and hit two batters.
“It got to the point where Kelly had given us everything she had and played a great game,” Ryman said. “We decided to make the change and Tanner did a great job as well.”
Sanders came on in the seventh with bases loaded and closed out the inning by striking out Rector. Sanders threw four innings. She scattered five hits. Only one run scored against her was earned. She struck out five and walked two.
Mandy Jordan entered the game with two outs and two runners on base. She struck out Amy Szymanowski, the only batter she faced, to end the inning.
“Mandy is the future of our pitching staff,” Ryman said. “She went right at the batter and attacked which is exactly what we want.”
Holly McKinnon went the distance for Upstate. She struck out 10 and walked two. She also gave up seven hits, all singles.
Young led the Lady Bisons with two hits.
“As the home team, when you go into extra innings, the pressure should be off,” Ryman said. “We have to have that mentality of continuing to stay loose in those situations. Again, those are things we have to learn.
“Every time we play Upstate it is an epic series. Unfortunately, they came out on top. This loss hurts. Both teams want it desperately. You expect an `A’ game from each team. I expect the two teams to be at the top of the conference again.”
- This was the longest game for the Lady Bisons since a 13-inning, 4-3 loss at Stetson April 19, 2014.
- The Lady Bisons have not won a series with Upstate since the 2013 season.
- Williams drove in all three runs for Lipscomb, her fifth time this season to drive in multiple runs and her season game high.
- Higgins has reached base in a team high 16 consecutive games. Fenichel is second with 13.
Next up: Lipscomb is back in action Wednesday at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium for a single game with Belmont starting at 5 p.m.
The home stand continues for the Lady Bisons Friday and Saturday. They will face A-Sun foe Jacksonville in a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. They will close out the series Saturday with a single game at 1 p.m.