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Saturday, May 23, 2009DELAND, Fla. _ Lipscomb pitchers Rex Brothers, Brandon McClurg and Josh Smith combined for a 5-4 win over East Tennessee State Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships.
Senior shortstop Branden Cadavid dropped a single into shallow right field tthat hit near the foul line to score Antonio Butler from third base with the game-winning run with one out in the ninth at Melching Field at Conrad Park.
“I knew when they walked Allen Bolden to get a runner on first to try to get a double play that I needed to try to get something to drive up in the air with a runner on third,” said Cadavid. “Fortunately, I got my pitching wedge out and chipped one in there somehow. It is not everyday you can be a hero, but when you are it's a great feeling.
“As seniors we have to carry this team because we have a lot of young guys. The freshmen stepped up big in this game and got some big hits. We try to keep the younger players up as much as we can and help them keep their composure.”
Cadavid stayed in the game despite an ankle injury he sustained when running to second base.
“Andrew Nickerson fought off a two-strike pitch to get Butler to third,” said Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand. “Branden had a chance to come through earlier in the game and didn't. It came around to his turn again and he gets the chip shot right on the line.”
The Bisons are one game away from returning to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. They will play the winner of today's game between Belmont and Jacksonville. Due to problems with rainy weather the tournament format was changed from double-elimination to single-elimination.
The championship game will start tonight 30 minutes after the finish of the Belmont-Jacksonville game.
“We had a long lay-off,” said Forehand. “This was an emotional game. We had to be ready with every pitch. Everything was tough.
“I have to give the players credit. We laid around here all week and came back and won the game.”
The start of the game was delayed as rain, which has hampered the tournament all week, continued this morning. Once the game got underway, it was delayed again as the rains returned in the Bisons' part of the first inning.
Both teams struggled to score early and the wet field prompted running miscues for both teams.
The Bisons broke the scoreless string when they scored three runs in the fourth inning.
Bolden led off the inning with a hard ground ball down the line that bounced off of first base and into right field. Cadavid followed with a long bunt single to second base. Justin Sanders then drove a grounder up the middle into center field that scored Bolden from second.
Tennyson Dodd struck out. Ryan Wilkins hit a high fly ball to right field that was misplayed by ETSU's Cory Betterson.. Cadavid scored on the play.
Sanders scored on a sacrifice bunt by Logan Hostettler.
Senior right-hander McClurg entered the game to start the sixth inning.
In the top of the seventh ETSU launched a rally. Garrett May singled to left. Chris Rankhorn was safe on a bunt to third. They both moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by Matthew Scruggs. After Jacob Fabry struck out Bo Reeder pounded a ground ball single up the middle that scored both May and Rankhorn. Paul Hoilman was intentionally walked to load the bases. Ben Allen grounded out to Ryan Wilkins at third.
It was the second time in the game that ETSU had loaded the bases. Brothers had fought out of a similar jam in the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the seventh Hostettler led off with a single. He went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Wilson. Antonio Butler singled. M.L. Williams then hit a liner to left to score Hostettler. The Bisons loaded the bases as Bolden walked, but could not score another run.
ETSU tied the game with two runs in the eighth. Junior right-hander Smith relieved McClurg with tow outs in the eighth. He pitched the final 1.1 innings, striking out two. He did not allow a hit. Smith, 6-4, was credited with the win,
Brothers opened the game, allowing only three hits in five innings. He walked two and hit one batter. McClurg pitched 2.2 innings, scattering seven hits and allowing all four runs. He walked two and struck out two.
The Bisons opened up the ninth inning with a double to deep center by Butler, his third hit of the game. Andrew Nickerson grounded out to move Butler to third. Bolden was intentionally walked setting the stage for Cadavid's game-winning single.
The Bisons pounded out 13 hits. Also getting three was Ryan Wilkins, who also had a double.
Brothers moved into the top 10 on the A-Sun list for strikeouts in a season. His six strikeouts give him 132 for the season, moving him into ninth place in the conference.
Forehand isn't sure what his plan will be for his pitching rotation in the championship game. He expects that Smith will return, but he might start freshman Davey Hackett (0-3, 7.85 ERA) or senior Charles Williams (1-6, 8.53). Both are right-handers.
“I would love to bring both Brothers and McClurg back, but it might not work,” said Forehand.
The Bisons are 24-31. ETSU closed out its season 25-28.