LipscombSports.com
Bisons appear to be peaking at right time in A-Sun Tournament

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May 21, 2008

DELAND, Fla. _ The best time for everything to click for a team is during tournament time.

The Bisons, the No.1 seed, entered the 30th annual Atlantic Sun Conference Baseball Championship here, losing eight of their last 15 regular season games. Two of those losses were to Campbell, the No. 6 seed, in two of the final three games of the season.

But Wednesday morning the regular season didn't mean very much here at Melching Field at Conrad Park, home of the host Stetson Hatters. The Bisons made one out and then went on a hitting and scoring binge with 17 hits, one short of the season game high, and a season-high 14 runs in a 14-0 win over Campbell.

The Bisons are 29-27 overall. Campbell fell to 20-36.

They scored three runs in the first, five in the second and one in the fourth. They added five more in the eighth.

"We couldn't ask for a better start than that," said Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand. "The bats and the pitching all came together. Whether it was 14-0 or 1-0 we will take it. We have to take that into Thursday."

The Bisons not only had their bats working overtime, but pitchers Rex Brothers and Charles Williams combined for a two-hit shutout.

Brothers, a sophomore left-hander, put in what may have been his best performance of the season, throwing a one-hitter through 6 1/3 innings with five strikeouts and two walks. Brothers raised his overall record to 3-5 with the performance.

"Rex was sharp," said Lipscomb pitching coach Lantz Wheeler. "He was prepared. He threw three pitches for strikes.

"Even when he got down a little bit he didn't get rattled. He kept competing. That is one of his strong suits. Whenever he can locate his fastball like that he is going to give anybody trouble."

Brothers leads the A-Sun in strikeouts, but he has struggled at times on the mound this season.

"This year he just has so many expectations on him because of his successful year as a freshman," Forehand said. "He put a little undo pressure on himself. He thought he had to perform at higher level every time out.

"Rex had really pitched well in his last few games before the tournament, but he didn't have a lot to show for it. He always gives us a solid performance. We want him to pitch and not feel like he has to strike out every batter."

Charles Williams closed out the game, also allowing only one hit in 2 2/3 innings. Williams walked one and struck out one.

"Charles did a great job," Wheeler said. "He is another guy who can throw the fastball and locate three pitches. "

All 13 of the Bisons RBI, also a single-season high, were driven in by the No. 2, No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 hitters. Designated hitter Justin Sanders led the way with five runs batted, tying a season high set April 1 by Jared Picchiottino against Middle Tennessee State in a 13-6 win. Sanders drove in three runs with a bases loaded double and two runs with a home run, his seventh of the season.

"We have been able to put up some runs on several occasions this year," Forehand said. "That's always something you hope shows up every time."

The Bisons have been a strong hitting team all season. Sanders and center field Allen Bolden each had three hits for the Bisons. Only one Bisons player failed to get a hit. Catcher Caleb Joseph scored four times, a new season game high.

Sanders had two doubles moving him to 21 for the season. Bolden's one double gives him 20 overall.

"When Justin squares balls up like that he has a good opportunity to drive in some runs," Forehand said. "He is a strong kid. When he picks out the right pitch he has the power."

The win was the first for the Bisons in tournament play. Since 1981 four teams have won the A-Sun Tournament Championship after having never won a game in previous conference tournaments. The last team to do it was Jacksonville in 1999.

The win moves the Bisons into the second round Thursday at 2. All games can be seen on A-Sun TV.