MACON, Ga. – Zach Lowery’s grand slam in the eighth inning led the Lipscomb baseball team to an 8-4 win over Atlantic Sun Conference opponent No. 24 Mercer on Sunday afternoon at Claude Smith Field in Macon, Ga.
Lowery stepped to the plate with the Bisons up 4-3. With a 0-1 count, the center fielder took the next pitch over the left field wall for a grand slam. It was the first career grand slam for Lowery and the second grand slam on the season for Lipscomb. Drew Adams hit a grand slam against Butler at Ken Dugan Field on March 2.
“The guy he hit it against (David Teasley) is one of the best relievers in the league,” Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand said. “Zach got a good pitch to hit and fortunately he got a hold of it.”
Before Lowery’s grand slam, Lipscomb (14-27, 4-11 A-Sun) was down 7-1 heading into the eighth inning.
Third baseman Gray Hutchinson led off the inning with a double to the right side and was followed by a two-run home run by second baseman Austin Sistrunk, who hit his first college home run chasing Mercer starter DJ Johnson.
“I tip my cap to Johnson,” Forehand said. “He held us in check for six full innings. I can’t say enough about Sistrunk. He hit his first collegiate home run and it came at a great time to tie the game. We had a big eighth inning and we went on from there.
“All weekend I felt like we were on the edge on doing something special like that and it finally happened on Sunday. We recognized that we we’re now in the game. When we were down three to nothing, they were in total control. We finally got the momentum changed and that’s what we talk about all the time.”
With the score tied at three, the Bisons continued to score runs. Right fielder Lee Wilson singled to center field. A successful sacrifice bunt by catcher Taylor Stewart and a hit-by-pitch for left fielder Drew Adams gave the Bisons runners on first and second as the rally continued.
Shortstop Aaron Sandoval hit a ground ball to the third baseman that bounced off Chesny Young’s glove and crept into the grass allowing Wilson to score from second giving the Bisons the first lead of the game 4-3. Ashcraft then walked to load the bases with one out setting the table for Lowery.
Then it was Lowery’s turn as his home run gave the Bisons some solid insurance on the score board.
Lipscomb starting pitcher Will Blalock took a no-hitter into the fourth inning, but the first batter in the fourth inning for Mercer, right fielder Derrick Workman singled to right field. Mercer (32-11, 12-6 A-Sun) would plate three runs in the fourth inning to take the early 3-0 lead.
The Bisons first run of the game came via a solo home run by designated hitter Tyson Ashcraft over the left field wall that cut the Bears lead 3-1.
Mercer added a run in the bottom half of the eighth with a solo home run by designated hitter Nick Backlund to cut the Bisons lead 8-4 but that would be as close as the Bears would come.
Freshman pitcher Denton Norman (2-0) picked up the win pitching 4.0 innings giving up one earned run, his first earned run in his last 17.0 innings pitched. He gave up three hits with no walks and four strikeouts.
Johnson pitched well for Mercer in the first seven innings, but ran into trouble in the eighth inning. He pitched 7-plus innings giving up three earned runs on five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. He only gave up three hits prior to the eighth inning.
Mercer’s reliever Grant Papelian (3-3) took the loss by giving up one earned run in one third of an inning.
The Bisons look to continue the momentum as LU finishes the four-game roadstand heading up Belmont Boulevard in a midweek matchup in the “Battle of the Boulevard” against Belmont on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
“Anytime we get a college baseball win, they are all important,” Forehand said. “We have momentum that we can take it to Belmont on Tuesday and hopefully into the weekend against Stetson.
The Bisons defeated the Bruins 5-3 on April 9 at Ken Dugan Field as the Purple and Gold scored the final three runs of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning.