MACON, Ga. – After a two hour rain delay, the Lipscomb baseball team dropped a tough Atlantic Sun Conference decision to No. 24 Mercer 7-4 at Claude Smith Field in Macon, Ga.
The Bisons had multiple opportunities to tie the game or take the lead, but left 11 runners on base and Mercer came up with the hits when they needed to.
“I told the team that we put up ones in four innings and we had opportunities to put up twos or threes, but we didn’t do it,” Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand said. They got the big hit when they needed to and we couldn’t get that one extra hit after we scored the one run.”
The Bisons (13-26, 3-10 A-Sun) would strike first in the top of the third inning. Third baseman Gray Hutchinson led off the inning with a base hit up the middle before designated hitter Lee Wilson sacrificed Hutchinson to second.
After a strikeout and a Taylor Stewart walk, right fielder Drew Adams had an RBI single to bring in Hutchinson and move Stewart over to third. Adams then stole second before shortstop Aaron Sandoval walked to load the bases. But the threat would end there as first baseman Tyson Ashcraft flew out to the right fielder to end the threat.
The Bears (31-10, 11-5 A-Sun) came right back in the bottom half of the stanza with a two-run home run by designated hitter Nick Backlund to give the Bears the first lead of the game 2-1.
Mercer then pushed across two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning with a two-run single by third baseman Chesney Young to increase the Bears lead to 4-1.
The Bisons pushed across another run in the top of the fifth inning to cut the Bears lead 4-2. Left fielder Chad Shannon led off the inning with a walk and Stewart hit a base hit up the middle to move Shannon into scoring position. A Drew Adams fielder’s choice cut Stewart down at second but moved Shannon to third.
Sandoval followed an RBI single up the middle to bring in Shannon and move Adams to second base. After a strikeout, center fielder Zach Lowery walked to load the bases once again with two outs but the Bisons would leave the bases loaded.
The Bears had an opportunity of their own in the bottom half of the stanza with the bases loaded and one out. But catcher David Reid-Foley lined out to Sandoval, who then stepped on second base to complete the double play and end the inning.
The Bisons continued to fight back pushing across another run in the top of the sixth inning to cut the Bears lead 4-3. Wilson singled up the middle and stole second base before Stewart hit a double to left field that reached the wall to score Wilson.
But the Bears would add two more runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning to increase their lead 6-3. Backlund hit a sacrifice fly and shortstop Evan Boyd singled in a run, but Shannon threw the trailing runner trying to score Derrick Workman out at the plate to end the inning.
Those pair of runs would be crucial for Mercer as Sandoval took the second pitch of the seventh inning over the wall for a solo home run down the left field line to pull within 6-4.
The Bears added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning with an RBI single by Backlund as part of a 2-for-3 night with four RBIs and one run scored.
Lipscomb starter Josh Cotham pitched four innings, giving up four runs off seven hits, two walks, had nine strikeouts and took the loss. His nine strikeouts is a season-high and tied a career-high for the redshirt senior.
The No. 2-3-4 hitters went 7-for-13 with four RBIs, one double and one home run. Adams led the team going 3-for-5 with two stolen bases and one RBI.
“Usually when you get seven hits out of those guys, you come out with more than four runs,” Forehand said. “I’m proud of the way we played, the effort and the intensity.”
Young lead the Bears going 3-for-3 with two runs scored, two RBIs, a walk and a stolen base. The Bears starting pitcher David Randall went 4.2 innings giving up two earned runs on five hits with four walks and six strikeouts. David Teasley picked up the win for the Bears pitching 1.1 innings of relief work.
The Bisons return to action tomorrow in game two of the series at 1 p.m. Lipscomb righty Hunter Brothers will be the starter for the Purple and Gold, while Brandon Barker will be on the mound for the Bears.