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Forehand rates Gardner-Webb as best team in A-Sun Tournament

Friday, May 23, 2008

May 23, 2008

DELAND, Fla. _ Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand didn't have a lot of time to savor the Bisons 12-4 win over Stetson.

He was too worried about the lunch choices of his players.

"Don't let them eat that pizza," Forehand shouted to assistant coach Brian Ryman. "Stop them now."

Forehand was looking for a lighter lunch choice because the Bisons don't have time to be bogged down. After eliminating the No. 5-seeded Stetson Hatters, the tournament host, early Friday afternoon here at Melching Field at Conrad Park the Bisons will face No. 4-seeded Gardner-Webb at approximately 7:30 p.m. CST.

Right-hander Josh Smith, 2-3 with a 5.34 earned run average, will start for the Bisons. He pitched a complete game 6-1 win at Campbell to close out the regular season.

The start of the game will be delayed due to a thunderstorm that hit prior to the start of the afternoon game between Belmont and Campbell, prompting a two-hour delay.

"We have to worry about our game against Gardner-Webb and nothing else," Forehand said. "We can't talk about being tired. We can't talk about being hot.

"These guys have been playing doubleheaders since they were 10 years old. That's how it is set up and how we have to do it. We have to come out here and play. This is what we have been preparing for all year long."

Gardner-Webb is the only undefeated team left in the tournament. They rallied to beat Belmont 9-7 in 10 innings Wednesday and defeated Stetson 10-6 Thursday night.

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

"I think Gardner-Webb is the best team in the tournament," Forehand said. "They are well-coached. They play their scheme the right. They will bunt and run in any situation. They will challenge you every pitch."

The Bisons have scored 34 runs and collected 46 hits in the tournament in three games. They opened Wednesday with 17 hits in a 14-0 win over Campbell and 13 hits in a 9-8 loss to Belmont Thursday.

"We got the hits against Belmont Thursday, but this time we got them and it equated into some runs," Forehand said. "Stetson got behind the eight-ball, but they didn't give up. Stetson felt like we were hitting too much for them to come back on us. We will take 16 hits any time."

The Bisons got five hits, three runs and three RBI from third baseman Branden Cadavid and second baseman Ben Williams, the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters respectively.

"They are good hitters down there," Forehand said. "They are getting some good pitches to hit. They just have to keep doing it from the bottom to the top."

It was the first time the Bisons had defeated Stetson in a season since joining the A-Sun. Last season Stetson beat the Bisons 4-3 in the first round of the tournament.

For the first time in the history of the conference a school from either Tennessee or North Carolina is going to win the tournament championship. Only three teams from Tennessee or North Carolina have reached the conference championship with Campbell advancing in 2000, ETSU in 2006 and Belmont in 2007.