April 28, 2007
It didn't take long for the bats to catch fire in Saturday night's Battle of the Boulevard between the Lipscomb Bisons and Belmont Bruins.
Three outs after Lipscomb's 1977 NAIA national championship team threw out the ceremonial first pitches, the Bisons placed the first two runs of the game on the board. Their lead was short-lived as the Bruins scored eight runs over the next three innings on their way to a 9-5 victory over the Bisons.
Neither starting pitcher lasted long. Combined, they threw 5 1/3 innings giving up thirteen runs. Lipscomb starter Taylor Merry tossed 3 1/3 of those innings giving up eight runs, seven earned. Belmont starter Josh Moffitt was pulled after giving up a no-out three-run home run to Caleb Joseph in the third.
"Belmont is the best team we've played so far in conference action," Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand said.
After the bullpens went to work, the game changed 180 degrees. The bullpens combined for 12 2/3 innings of work giving up only one run.
In the bottom of the first, Ben Williams singled to right field. Shane Simpkins doubled to left field driving Williams home. Simpkins advanced to third when Caleb Joseph flew out to center field. Simpkins then scored on a ground ball to the shortstop by Ryan Wilkins.
The other three Bison runs came in the bottom of the third. Ben Williams and Shane Simpkins started the inning by each reaching base on walks. Caleb Joseph then nailed a 3-1 pitch over the left field fence.
Joseph's three run home run closed Belmont's lead to one run, 6-5. But the Bruins tacked on two runs in the top of the fourth and then added an insurance run in the top of the eighth.
"Both teams hit the ball tonight," said Forehand. "Belmont collected eleven hits while we collected ten. Our hits need to be louder in order to score more."
For the Bisons, Taylor Merry pitched 3 1/3 innings giving up eight runs, seven earned off of eight hits and two walks. He struck out one while his earned run average increased to 4.67. Brandon McClurg pitched 5 2/3 innings pitched giving up one earned run on three hits. He struck out two and did not walk a batter.
"Brandon McClurg was excellent tonight," Forehand said. "I can't ask much more for him to come out of the bullpen and pitch like he did."
For Belmont, Josh Moffitt threw 2 innings giving up 5 earned runs off of four hits and two walks. He did not strike out a batter as his earned run average increased to 7.28. Eric Diaz was the first Bruin pitcher out of the pen pitching three innings giving up four hits and one walk. He struck out one and gave up no runs. Jimmy Stanley closed the game for Belmont pitching four innings giving up two hits. He struck out four and did not give up a run.
Eric Diaz was credited with the win improving to 1-1. Taylor Merry received the loss falling to 3-1. Jimmy Stanley earned his first save of the season.
Lipscomb holds a 65-40 advantage in the Battle of the Boulevard series since 1954.
Lipscomb falls to 25-20 overall and 9-8 in Atlantic Sun conference play. Belmont improves to 26-18 overall and 13-7 in conference play.
The Bruins and Bisons are back in action for the final game of the Battle for the Boulevard series Sunday at 1 p.m. at Ken Dugan Field.
Reigning Atlantic Sun Conference pitcher of the week Rob Smithson (5-3, 3.95) will take the mound for the Bisons. LHP Carlo Testa (3-3, 4.58) will get the start for Belmont.
Belmont     024 200 010 - 9 11 0
Lipscomb  203 000 000 - 5 10 0
Moffitt, Diaz (3), and Stanley (6). Merry and McClurg (4). W- Diaz 1-1, L- Merry 3-1. Sv: Stanley (1). HR- BEL: Simmons (10), LIP: Joseph (7)