LipscombSports.com
Bisons anxious to start rain-soaked A-Sun Tournament
Tennyson Dodd
Tennyson Dodd

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

DELAND, Fla. _ Instead of playing their first game in the Atlantic Sun Championship Wednesday afternoon the Lipscomb Bisons spent a few minutes playing Whiffle ball, pepper and throwing in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn where they are staying.

Heavy rains and thunderstorms forced the delay of the start of Atlantic Sun Championship. The No.2-seeded Bisons (23-31, 17-13) will face No. 5-seeded Mercer (23-22, 12-15) Thursday at 2 p.m. at Melching Field at Conrad Park if the weather clears.

“We have looked at tape and scouting reports until we can't look at them any more,” said Bisons coach Jeff Forehand. “I think the players are more content than the coaches at this point.

“Hopefully, the rain will break and we will get this thing going. At this it is not really about practice. It is about what we are going to do on the field. We just want to keep their energy levels going.”

Central Florida has been dealing with rain for most of the week with flooding becoming a major problem. The Bisons were able to practice here Tuesday despite the weather, but since then Forehand has been challenged to keep his players active.

“It's a problem for all of the other teams too,” said Forehand. “We're all just waiting for the weather to clear up. I think they have been busy enough today.

“They have their computers. They have their video games. They can watch TV. There are things for them to do.”

The Bisons still plan to start junior left-hander Rex Brothers (5-5, 3.44 ERA) against Mercer. Junior right-hander Lath Guyer (2-4, 5.82 ERA) is expected to pitch for Mercer.

This will be the first time that Lipscomb and Mercer have met in post season in baseball. The Bisons won the series with Mercer 2-1 back in March. Mercer comes into the tournament on a hot streaking having swept a three-game series from Belmont to close out the regular season. They have won six of their last eight games.

“Mercer has come on pretty strong at the end,” said Forehand. “They are very scrappy team. They don't strikeout a lot. They always are moving the ball. They play solid baseball.

'We have prepared for Mercer based on what they did to us last time. We won two games against them, but we could have very easily lost two.”

Despite the success against Mercer earlier in the season, Forehand expects both teams to provide different looks this time around.

“We didn't have M.L. Williams in the lineup when we played them before,” said Forehand. “Everybody's teams are a little bit different. We had hit a stride pretty good at the point, had a little bit of a lull and picked things back up.

“I think Mercer has obviously improved. They have a well-coached and well-prepared team. I look forward to see what happens when we play them.”

If the bad weather continues to affect the schedule it could be a single-elimination instead of a double- elimination tournament. Forehand thinks that a one-and-done situation would put an even bigger premium on pitching with the top three starters, Brothers, junior right-hander Josh Smith and senior right-hander Brandon McClurg set to lead the charge.

“We are able to use one of them out of the bullpen,” said Forehand. “If the tournament does get shortened then everyone's bullpen becomes more important. Matt Bowling, Charles Williams and Kyle Tognazzini will be be able to stretch things out.”

If the Bisons win against Mercer they would play the winner of the game between No. 3-seed Stetson and No. 4-seed Belmont Friday at 6. If the Bisons lose to Mercer, and the tournament remains in a double-elimination format, they will play the loser of the game between top-seeded Jacksonville and No. 6-seeded ETSU Friday at 10 a.m..