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Bisons-Gardner-Webb A-Sun Championship Game Notes

Sunday, May 25, 2008

May 25, 2008

LIPSCOMB BISONS, No.1 Seed (31-28) vs. GARDNER-WEBB, No. 4 Seed (29-29)

30th ANNUAL ATLANTIC SUN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

MELCHING FIELD AT CONRAD PARK

DELAND, FLA.

MAY 25, 2008

THE SERIES: The Bisons advanced to their first ever Atlantic Sun Championship baseball game with an 8-2 win over Gardner-Webb Saturday. The Bisons lost 4-1 last season to Gardner-Webb in the second game of the Atlantic Sun Tournament.

The Bisons swept Gardner-Webb during the regular season with a 6-5 win March 20 and 8-4 and 6-5 wins in doubleheader March 21, all at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium. The only other team to sweep Gardner-Webb was Florida Gulf Coast.

Gardner-Webb advanced with a 6-3 win over Belmont Saturday.

This is the first time since 1979 that both teams are making their first appearances in the championship game.

ON-THE-AIR: Game time is noon CDT. All tournament games are being show live on ASUN TV. Fans can subscribe to the service by going to lipscombsports.com and clicking on the ASUN TV button.

THE TOURNAMENT: The Bisons won their first A-Sun Tournament game Wednesday shutting down Campbell, the No. 6 seed 14-0. The Bisons dropped to the loser's bracket with a 9-8 loss to No. 3 seed Belmont Thursday afternoon. They beat host Stetson 12-4 to advance to within one game of the championship and Gardner-Webb 8-2.

The Bisons are in the A-Sun Tournament for the second time.

The tournament champion earns the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

ONE FOR THE BOOKS: The win over Campbell set a couple of new team game highs for this season for the Bisons. The 14 runs bested the 13 scored April 1 against Middle Tennessee State in a 13-6 win.

The 13 runs batted in topped the 12 knocked in by the BIsons in two games this season, March 1 against Belmont and April 1 against Middle Tennessee State.

The 17 hits by the Bisons were one short of the 18 against Stetson April 6.

Designated hitter Justin Sanders drove in five runs with a double and a home run. That ties Jared Picchiottino who had five RBI against Middle Tennessee April 1.

Catcher Caleb Joseph scored four runs, a new season high for one game this season.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: This is the second season in a row the Bisons have qualified for the six-team tournament. Last season they lost 4-3 in game one to Stetson and 4-1 in the second game to Gardner-Webb.

The 14-0 scoring bulge against Campbell is the second highest in the history of the tournament for a shutout game. In 1987 former A-Sun member Georgia Southern beat Stetson 18-0.

Before the Bisons beat Campbell they were the only current A-Sun team qualified for the tournament that had not won a tournament game.

The Bisons are the second school in 13 years to improve from the No. 6 to the No. 1 seed in one year. The last team to accomplish that feat was former A-Sun member Florida Atlantic in 1999.

The Bisons and Gardner-Webb were a combined 2-10 in their previous A-Sun Tournament appearances.

ON THE MOUND: The Bisons starters have a 3.00 earned run average in the tournament.

Paul Piennette is expected to start for the Bisons in the title game, his first tournament appearance. Piennette is 2-3 with a 4.17 ERA.

Left-hander Rex Brothers was outstanding in the tournament opener with Campbell picking up the win, allowing only one hit in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked two.

Right-hander Charles Williams gave up one hit in 2 2/3 innings in relief to preserve the shutout. Williams came back to pitch five innings and pick up the win Thursday against Stetson. He gave up one run and allowed only three hits.

Brandon McClurg started the Belmont game and left after 6.2 innings. Reliever Kyle Tognazzini, 6-2, took the loss for the Bisons, pitching .2 innings and giving up five runs in the eighth inning. Chris Burnett closed out the game.

Michael Dunn pitched four innings against Stetson. He gave up three runs and seven hits.

Josh Smith earned the win over Gardner-Webb, allowing two runs one earned, and seven hits in seven innings.

Chris Burnett, making his second appearance, shut down Gardner-Webb for two innings on two hits with one strikeout.

AWARDS AND HONORS: Pitcher Brandon McClurg and catcher Caleb Joseph both were named to the All-Atlantic Sun Conference First Team.

McClurg has twice been named Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Week. In addition, McClurg was also named as one of five "Louisville Slugger" National Players of the Week, as well as awarded the Southeast Region Performance of the Week by InsidePitching.com

McClurg threw a no-hitter against Kennesaw State, a 4-0 win March 29. It was the first A-Sun no-hitter in two years.

PROJECTED POSITION STARTERS: C Caleb Joseph, 1B Ryan Wilkins, 2B Ben Williams, SS Jorge Gutierrez, 3B Branden Cadavid, RF Shane Simpkins, CF Allen Bolden, LF Blake Bratcher, DH Justin Sanders.

A-SUN RANKINGS: Brandon McClurg is third in the conference with a 2.92 earned run average.

Pitcher Rex Brothers is first in strikeouts with 91, three short of tying his mark for last season. He is averaging 9.4 per game.

Catcher Caleb Joseph moved into third in home runs with 16. Joseph is third in total bases (152). He is fourth in slugging percentage (.636). He is fifth in RBI (59). He is tied for sixth in doubles (18).

Designated hitter Justin Sanders had two doubles against Campbell, giving him 21 for the season and moving him into sole possession of third place in the conference. He has three in the tournament giving him 22 for the season.

Center fielder Allen Bolden had one double against Campbell giving him 20 for the season, good enough for fourth place in the conference. He has two in the tournament giving him 21 for the season.

Bolden is second in runs scored with 60.

Shortstop Jorge Gutierrez is tied for ninth in stolen bases with 18.

HEAR THE BAND: Bisons catcher Caleb Joseph (drums), Bisons pitchers Jordan Baron (rhythm guitar, lead vocals) and Jerry Young (bass guitar) are joined by Lipscomb student Trent Bailey (lead guitar) in rock band called "Cold Steal."

They have played several times at campus event. They practice in the baseball press box.

THE .300 CLUB: Five Bisons are batting .300 or better. Caleb Joseph leads the way at .356 followed by Allen Bolden (.338, Shane Simpkins (.316), Blake Bratcher (.309) and Justin Sanders (.306).

The Bisons are batting .363 as a team in the tournament, tops among the six teams.

The Bisons also have seven home runs in the tournament, one less than the other five teams combined.

PERFECT ATTENDANCE: Three Bisons, Caleb Joseph, Allen Bolden and Jorge Gutierrez, have played and started in all 59 games this season.

BISONS A WINNER: The Bisons are the only team in the tournament with a winning overall record this season. They were one of two teams with a winning A-Sun record. The other team, Mercer, the No. 2, was the first team eliminated from the tournament.

DUGAN AWARD: Second baseman Ben Williams has won the Ken Dugan Award, the highest honor a Lipscomb baseball player can receive, for the past two seasons. He is the only player to win the award twice