LipscombSports.com
Bisons rally for 10-8 win over Mercer in A-Sun opener
Ryan Wilkins
Ryan Wilkins

Friday, March 06, 2009

Lipscomb infielder Ryan Wilkins hit an unconventional inside-the-park grand slam to spark a five-run seventh inning as the Bisons took a 10-8 win over Mercer Friday afternoon at Claude Smith Field in Macon, Ga.

It was the first Atlantic Sun game of the season for both teams.

Wilkins hit the ball deep to left forcing Mercer’s left fielder to go deep to attempt a catch. Instead, the left fielder hit the fence and fell to the ground motionless. No call was made as the ball bounced off the fence and Wilkins and three other Bisons scored on the play. It was determined that the left fielder had a cut lip, but was not seriously injured.

“We really didn’t have much going until the seventh inning,” said Bisons coach Jeff Forehand. “Mercer was ahead most of the time, but we hung in there.”

The Bisons opened the first inning with two runs. With one out Allen Bolden singled to center and Justin Sanders followed with a single to right. Tennyson Dodd lined out to the left fielder, earning the sacrifice as Bolden scored. Wilkins picked up his first RBI of the game when he singled to send Sanders home.

Mercer answered with three runs in the bottom of the first and one run in the second.

The Bisons tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the sixth.

Sanders walked to start the inning. Dodd and Wilkins then struck out. With two outs Branden Cadavid walked and Jay Moreland was hit by a pitch. Josh Smith entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Brad Gooch. He singled through the left side of the infield to Cadavid and Sanders.

Mercer took the lead again in the bottom of the sixth with one run.

That set the stage for the explosive seventh inning.

Tyler Wilson was hit by a pitch with one out. Bolden singled for the second time. Wilson moved to second and then went on to third on an error by Mercer’s second baseman. Sanders reached base on his second single, this time to left field. That play scored Wilson. Dodd then loaded the bases with a fielder’s choice, but he was replaced by Clay Lehning as a pinch runner. Wilkins drove them all home with the grand slam.

The five RBI by Wilkins are an individual and team season high.

Mercer rallied for three runs in the eighth, but it was not enough.

The Bisons added one more run in the ninth. Bolden walked. Sanders was safe on a fielder’s choice. Lehning singled to bring Sanders home with his fourth run of the game.

Sanders extended his hitting streak to nine games.

Junior left-hander Rex Brothers raised his record to 2-1 with the win. He pitched seven innings. He gave up five hits and five runs and struck out 12, a career high. His previous best was 11 at Mercer April 7, 2007.

Josh Cotham relieved and gave up two hits and three runs, all earned. He was replaced by Kyle Tognazzini who gave up one hit and struck out one in closing out the game for his second save of the season.

“It was a hard fought game on both sides,” said Forehand. “We'll take a win any way we can get one. It is going to be interesting to see what happens the next two days.”

Senior right-hander Brandon McClurg, 0-1, 5.82, will start for the Bisons Saturday at 3.

The Bisons are 4-5, 1-0 in the A-Sun. Mercer slipped to 4-5, 0-1 in the conference.

Wilkins hit the ball deep to left forcing Mercer’s left fielder to go deep to attempt a catch. Instead, the left fielder hit the fence and fell to the ground motionless. No call was made as the ball bounced off the fence and Wilkins and three other Bisons scored on the play. It was determined that the left fielder had a cut lip, but was not seriously injured.

“We really didn’t have much going until the seventh inning,” said Bisons coach Jeff Forehand. “Mercer was ahead most of the time, but we hung in there.”

The Bisons opened the first inning with two runs. With one out Allen Bolden singled to center and Justin Sanders followed with a single to right. Tennyson Dodd lined out to the left fielder, earning the sacrifice as Bolden scored. Wilkins picked up his first RBI of the game when he singled to send Sanders home.

Mercer answered with three runs in the bottom of the first and one run in the second.

The Bisons tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the sixth.

Sanders walked to start the inning. Dodd and Wilkins then struck out. With two outs Branden Cadavid walked and Jay Moreland was hit by a pitch. Josh Smith entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Brad Gooch. He singled through the left side of the infield to Cadavid and Sanders.

Mercer took the lead again in the bottom of the sixth with one run.

That set the stage for the explosive seventh inning.

Tyler Wilson was hit by a pitch with one out. Bolden singled for the second time. Wilson moved to second and then went on to third on an error by Mercer’s second baseman. Sanders reached base on his second single, this time to left field. That play scored Wilson. Dodd then loaded the bases with a fielder’s choice, but he was replaced by Clay Lehning as a pinch runner. Wilkins drove them all home with the grand slam.

The five RBI by Wilkins are an individual and team season high.

Mercer rallied for three runs in the eighth, but it was not enough.

The Bisons added one more run in the ninth. Bolden walked. Sanders was safe on a fielder’s choice. Lehning singled to bring Sanders home with his fourth run of the game.

Sanders extended his hitting streak to nine games.

Junior left-hander Rex Brothers raised his record to 2-1 with the win. He pitched seven innings. He gave up five hits and five runs and struck out 12.

Josh Cotham relieved and gave up two hits and three runs, all earned. He was placed by Kyle Tognazzini who gave up one hit and struck out one in closing out the game for his second save of the season.

“It was a hard fought game on both sides,” said Forehand. “Well take a win any way we can get one. It is going to be interesting to see what happens the next two days.”

Senior right-hander Brandon McClurg, 0-1, 5.82, will start for the Bisons.

The Bisons are 4-5, 1-0 in the A-Sun. Mercer slipped to 4-5, 0-1 in the conference.