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Saturday, February 26, 2011It was only his second appearance on the NCAA Division I level, but it is not too early to label Connor Sinclair as “Mr. Consistency”.
Saturday afternoon in a 3-1 win against Marshall at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen Lee Marsh Stadium Sinclair struck out 11 batters, a team season high, in seven innings. It was his first win for Lipscomb Bisons. In his first start of the season Feb. 19 against Bradley he also pitched seven innings in a game that last 13.
Sinclair has not allowed a run in his first 14 innings. He gave up two hits against Marshall. Left-hander Blake Fonfara, one of four relievers used in the game, gave up the run to Marshall in the eighth.
“He just puts up zeros,” said Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand. “When he gets in a bad situation it doesn’t faze him. When there are runners on base he is like a bulldog out there.”
Sinclair, a right-hander who transferred from Butler Community College, is not known for being a strikeout pitcher, but he has 18 in his two outings.
“He needs to keep thinking that he is not a strikeout pitcher,” Bisons’ pitching coach Tyler Shrout said. “Marshall’s hitters were swinging at a lot of pitches in the dirt. His hard slider was a good pitch. He got ahead in the count and they had to swing at that pitch.”
Sometimes a junior college transfer has problems making the adjustment to NCAA Division I, but Sinclair has not faced any obstacles.
“I just come in and throw strikes,” Sinclair said. “The defense plays behind me. I get in a groove with my catcher and that is about all it takes.
“I’m not up there trying to strike people out. But if they want to swing over pitchers that is fine with me.”
The Bisons wanted to strike early and they did with two runs in the second inning. Josh Chism led off the inning with a single to left field. Tennyson Dodd flied out to center and Ricky Coleman struck out swinging. Chism stole second during Coleman’s at bat. Brett Teschner singled to left to bring in Chism with two outs. Kyle Henry doubled to left center to score Teschner.
The Bisons added another run in the fourth. Chism opened the inning with a walk. Dodd grounded out to the shortstop which moved Chism to second. Coleman put down a bunt and was safe at first, advancing Chism to third. Teschner hit a fly to left field that brought Chism across the plate on the sacrifice.
In the eighth Marshall strung together three singles to break the shutout.
Once again the bullpen pitchers got their share of the work. Fonfara and right-hander Mike Grace struggled in relief, but right-hander Chad Fromm pitched two-thirds of an inning without giving up a hit or a run. Left-hander Gil Rehwinkel did not allow a hit or a run in the final 1.1 innings to pick up his first save of the season.
“Chad got Marshall to ground into a double play and then Gil got the next guy out,” Forehand said. “That is all we can ask.
“We have been talking and preaching this all year long. I tell them that as a relief guy they may have one batter or four or five pitches. They need to have great stuff right when they step on the mound. We did the same thing in the first game with Marshall but it didn’t work out.”
Henry’s double was the only extra base hit for either team. Williams stole his fifth base of the season. Coleman stole two bases in the game.
Victor Gomez had two hits for Marshall.
The Bisons had six hits off of four Marshall pitchers. Marshall connected for five hits.
“We have to get the offense going a little bit more,” Forehand said. “We had some opportunities where we didn’t capitalize.”
The three-game series ends Sunday at 1. Right-hander Dannie Strable, 1-0 with a 1.50 earned run average, will start for the Bisons.
The Bisons are 4-3. Marshall is 3-2.
“Marshall has a solid team,” Forehand said. “Their three, four and five hitters are really good. Their bullpen is solid. They have a great leadoff batter. They have some weapons that can hurt you.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.