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Friday, April 23, 2010DELAND, FLA. – The Lipscomb Bisons and senior right-hander Josh Smith appeared to be a lock for Friday nights wins after winning their last seven weekend openers.
The Bisons were unable to string together any timely hits until the final frame while the Stetson Hatters (21-19, 9-4 A-Sun) delivered when it counted as the Bisons fell 6-1 Friday evening at Melching Field in DeLand, Fla.
Lipscomb (14-26, 5-8 A-Sun) was 3-of-16 with runners aboard and left 11 runners stranded.
The Bisons were held hitless until their 12th plate appearance of the game when Corey Hale singled through the left side in the top of the fourth. Cleanup hitter Zach Messor walked to put runners on first and second with one out. Seniors Ryan Wilkins and Andrew Nickerson both flew out to end the inning.
Stetson put the first numbers on the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning. After Smith issued uncustomary back-to-back walks, Mike Jones ripped a triple to left center. With the infield playing in, Nick Rickles placed a single over second baseman Ander Nickerson’s head to give the Hatters the 3-0 lead.
Stetson had three triples on the night, two by Jones. The Hatters entered the game with nine three-base hits on the year.
The Bisons were unable to score in the fifth inning after the first two batters of the inning reached base. M.L. Williams attempted to sacrifice the runners over, but his bunt rolled directly back to the pitcher who threw a strike to third base beating out T.J. Hoelzer. Tyler Wilson grounded out to second base to advance the runners a base, but Lee Wilson struck out to end the inning.
Stetson tacked on two more runs in the sixth. A double by Rickles scored a run. Robert Crews struck out for what should have been the third out of the inning, but he reached base and Rickles advanced a base when Smith’s pitch was wild. The next batter singled in Rickles.
Lipscomb had another prime opportunity to put runs on the board in the 7th after singles by Hoelzer and then Williams two batters later. After Tyler Wilson flew out, Lee Wilson loaded the bases with a walk. Hale struck out looking on a full count to end the inning.
Smith was lifted for reliever Alex Ross in the 7th inning. Smith tossed six innings giving up eight hits and five runs, all earned. He walked three and struck out nine. It was the first time since Feb. 26 that Smith didn’t pitch at least 7 innings.
The Hatters scored added an insurance run in the eighth when an errant throw by Hoelzer to first allowed Kurt Schluter to score from second on an infield single.
The Bisons posted their sole run of the game in the ninth inning. Catcher Matt Brewer singled with one out in his first at bat after entering the game as a defensive replacement in the 7th. Williams flew out for the second out of the inning before Tyler Wilson singled through the left side. Lew Wilson singled up the middle to score Brewer. Stetson’s coach opted to lift starter Jacob deGrom for closer Robbie Powell. Hale flew out to center to end the game.
DeGrom (4-1) earned the win with his strong performance throwing 8.2 innings giving up nine hits and one run. He walked three and struck out six. Smith (7-2) took the loss for the Bisons.
The teams meet Saturday at 1 p.m. for game two of the series. Davey Hackett (3-3, 5.73 ERA) will face off against Lindsey Caughel (3-3, 6.94 ERA).
The game can be heard on the Lipscomb Sports Network at www.LipscombSports.com.