May 25, 2008
DELAND, Fla. _ The Lipscomb Bisons made history in more ways than one.
With two outs and the bases loaded Shane Simpkins slammed a ground ball past Gardner-Webb's second baseman into right field to score Allen Bolden with the winning run in a three-run 15th inning for a 10-9 win.
The game was the longest played in the Atlantic Sun Tournament and the longest championship game this season in all of NCAA Division I.
Sunday afternoon here at Melching Field at Conrad Park the Bisons, the No.1 seed, spotted Gardner-Webb, the No.4-seed, a four-run lead before a six-run rally in the sixth. Two runs in the ninth by Gardner-Webb sent the game into extra innings, marking the first time that championship game had been decided in more than nine innings.
Both teams scored in the 13th to knot the game at 7-7.
It was also the first time in the history of the tournament that the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds had played each other for the championship.
With the championship the Bisons earn the A-Sun's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bisons are the first A-Sun Baseball Champion from outside the state of Florida since Southeast Louisiana, a former member of the conference, won in 1994. The Bisons are the first No. 1 seed to win the tournament since former conference member UCF did it in 2002.
The Bisons are the fifth team to win the championship for the first time in the last 17 years. The last time it happened was in 2004 when Florida Atlantic won its only title.
The Bisons quickly dug a hole in the first inning. Left-hander Paul Piennette, making his first appearance in the tournament, hit the first batter he faced, allowed a single and then hit the third batter for Gardner-Webb.
Right-hander Kyle Tognazzini came on in relief with the bases loaded. He gave up a single up the middle to Bubbie Spake that scored two runs. Gardner-Webb added a third run on a sacrifice fly to left field.
In the fourth Gardner-Webb added a fourth run.
The Bisons put six runs on the scoreboard in the sixth inning.
Catcher Caleb Joseph singled the left side of the field to start the inning. Left fielder Blake Bratcher walked. Designated hitter Justin Sanders singled to the right side and drove Joseph home with the Bisons first run of the game.
Right fielder Shane Simpkins singled through the left side to score Bratcher. Gardner-Webb replaced left-handed started Webster Beal with right-hander Adam Bullard.
First baseman Ryan Wilkins reached base on a bunt single to Bullard. First baseman Spake lost control of the ball, allowing Sanders to score.
Third baseman Branden Cadavid grounded out to second base, but Simpkins scored on the play. Second baseman Ben Williams singled to right field and then stole second. Shortstop Jorge Gutierrez singled up the middle to put the Bisons ahead as Wilkins and Williams scored.
Gardner-Webb came back to tie the game in the top of the ninth. Spake walked with one out. Daniel Cooke doubled to left field. Designated hitter Kurt Fulginiti singled to second base to score Spake.
Second baseman Aaron Miller put down a bunt single to second that allowed Cooke to score.
In the 13th Brock Miller blasted the ball deep to left center and slid into third with a triple to start the inning. Ty Boyles doubled deep to center to score Brock Miller to give Gardner-Webb the 7-6 lead.
The Bisons responded with a solo run to tie the game at 7-7. Second baseman Ben Williams singled to left center and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gutierrez. Bratcher drove in Williams with a single to left.
In the 15th Jeremiah Lokken walked with one out. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and then went to third as Joseph was off target at second with his throw. Kurt Fulginiti doubled to right center to score Lokken. Aaron Miller bunted to second base allowing Cooke to score from third.
Cadavid open the 15th for the Bisons with a single to center field. He advanced to second on a single to left by Ben Williams. Gutierrez moved both runners with a sac bunt. Cadavid then scored on a single to right field by Bolden.
Bratcher was intentionally walked. Jared Picchiottino walked to load the bases.
Joseph singled to third base and was thrown out, but Bolden scored to tie the game again at 9-9.
Left-hander Rex Brothers started the fifth inning for the Bisons. He allowed two runs in 11 1/3 innings in the tournament, the pair in the ninth.
Right-hander Chris Burnett pitched the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th innings and part of the 14th.
With two outs in the 14th and runners on first and third right-hander Brandon McClurg entered the game and forced an infield ground out to end the inning. He was replaced by left-hander Mike Dunn with one out and runners on first and third in the 15th.
Dunn picked up the win for the Bisons.
Tournament notes: Lipscomb second baseman Ben Williams was hit by a pitch twice in the game. ...Joseph had both a single and double in the sixth. ...The winner in each tournament game scored at least six runs. ...