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Smith leads Bisons to another Friday win
Andrew Nickerson
Andrew Nickerson

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Lipscomb Bisons gave Kennesaw State four outs in the ninth inning, but still managed to open the Atlantic Sun series with a 4-3 win Friday night at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.

The two teams meet again Saturday in a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Davey Hackett, 2-3, 6.21 earned run average, will pitch the opener. Freshman left-hander Chris Nunn, 0-1, 15.51, will start in the nightcap.

Senior right-hander Josh Smith threw his third consecutive complete game. He scattered six hits and gave up three runs, only one earned, including one in the ninth inning. Smith is 6-1 for the season.

Smith’s performances on Friday have been the highlights of most of the weekend series. He doesn’t mind the pressure of being in the No. 1 spot.

“That is something I have done all of my life,” Smith said. “Growing up I always wanted to be in pressure situations. I wanted to be the kid at bat or the kid with the ball when it mattered most. I kind of carried that into college.”

Smith had all of the pressure he wanted against Kennesaw State.

With one out in the ninth Tyler Stubblefield reached base on a triple to center. Hart struck out. Then Josh Whitaker reached base when shortstop Zach Messer could not come up with the ground ball. Stubblefield scored on the play. Messer redeemed himself on the next play, throwing out Joe Gorley to end the game.

“There were a lot of good plays,” Forehand said. “M.L. Williams made a good play in the outfield. Zach makes an error and then makes a backhand play to end the game. And Logan Hostettler caught a great game.”

After giving up a one-out home run to left field by Peyton Hart in the first inning Smith settled down and completed the game. “We got some timely hits and were able to come back after Smitty gave up the home run,” Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand said. “That was just a good all-around game for us.”

Smith is confident in the abilities of his teammates to score runs and to field the ball. He saw no reason to be overly concerned about spotting Kennesaw State a first inning run.

“I just made a bad pitch,” Smith said. “I have to give Hart credit. He is a great hitter. He took advantage of my mistake.

“I wasn’t sweating it. I knew we were going to score at least one run. I just needed to settle down, get ahead of hitters and do my thing.”

In the sixth Smith gave up one run when Hart scored off of an error by third baseman Cory Hale. In the bottom of the sixth Hale shook off the mistake and opened the home part of the inning with a double down the left field line. Zach Messer walked. Hale stole third base. Andrew Nickerson reached base on a fielder’s choice that forced Messer out at second. Hale scored on the play. Ryan Wilkins tripled to center field to bring home Nickerson.

“Cory made the mistake and let them score and then he comes back with the double,” Forehand said. “That’s the mentality we are trying to get. It is taking a little longer to develop.

“We were a little snake bit for awhile. It seemed like the ball was never going to bounce our way. We are sticking with the plan. Hopefully, we can build on another win.”

In the second inning the Bisons scored on a double down the left field line by M.L. Williams which brought in Kyle Henry who had reached base on an error by Stubblefield at shortstop.

The Bisons added another run in the third when Messer singled followed by a single to left by Nickerson.

In addition to the challenges of the ninth inning, Smith also faced a bases loaded situation in the eighth. Forehand refused to go to his bullpen.

“Smitty is our guy on Fridays,” Forehand said. “We had nobody in the bullpen and bases loaded and no outs. We are going to him. He deserves that.”

Smith didn’t want any help.

“Coach Forehand tells me every week he isn’t going to be warming anybody up in those situations,” Smith said. “I don’t really want him to do it.

“I got myself into that mess. I don’t expect anybody but myself to try to get me out of it. I just made good pitches and it worked out for me.”

Smith struck out 11 batters, the third straight time he has finished in double figures in strikeouts. He walked two batters.

“Getting ahead is the main thing for me,” Smith said. “I need to locate my fastball early in the count. My breaking stuff has been good the last couple of years. I am showing it for strikes early. Keeping the batters off balance is why I have been able to strikeout so many people.”

The Bisons are 11-20, 3-4 in the A-Sun. Kennesaw State is 13-19, 4-6 in the conference.

Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.