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Thursday, May 12, 2011The Atlantic Sun Tournament may not start for a couple of weeks, but Lipscomb already faces a must-win series as they host No. 14 Stetson this weekend at Ken Dugan Field.
With six conference games remaining, Lipscomb (18-30, 9-15) sits in ninth place in the Atlantic Sun. Only the top six teams make the Atlantic Sun Tournament that will be played at Lipscomb starting on May 25th.
Lipscomb still has a chance to make the Tournament, but head coach Jeff Forehand said the Bisons would need a sense of urgency as they welcome Stetson this weekend.
“I am hopeful that our team recognizes we are in a playoff atmosphere right now,” Forehand said. “We have got a chance to put ourselves in a position to be in the tournament and we have three games at home. We will take them one at a time.”
Stetson (37-12, 20-4) is ranked 14th in the nation in at least one of the major baseball polls. The Hatters have won eight of their last nine conference games and are coming off back-to-back weekend sweeps against Florida Gulf Coast and North Florida.
“They are going to be a very good team and a team that is going to challenge you in many ways,” Forehand said. “They have got a good pitching staff and their offense has been solid all year long.”
This is the final weekend series for the Bisons at Ken Dugan Field and Stephen Lee Marsh Stadium. Forehand said playing at home should make a big difference in this crucial series.
“Anytime we play here at home we feel like we have a great opportunity to win,” Forehand said. “Home field advantage for us is special. Whether we are playing the 14th ranked team in the country or the 1st place team in the country, we have got a chance to win here.”
The Bisons picked up their first A-Sun series sweep last weekend against Campbell. Lipscomb dropped a road non-conference game to Tennessee Tech on Tuesday night 12-9.
The Hatters have struggled this week in the non-conference as well. After getting beat 13-1 at home against No. 6 Florida State on Tuesday night, the Hatters dropped another home midweek game on Wednesday night to Florida International 10-9 in 11 innings.
With only six Atlantic Sun games remaining and the Bisons trying to stay in the A-Sun Tournament conversation, Forehand said the margin of error against a team like Stetson is very small.
“We are going to have to play our best game on Friday to get off to a good start,” Forehand said. “ We still are in control of our own destiny. We have got to win some games, but all we have control of now is Friday night.”
Once again Lipscomb will send right-handed junior Connor Sinclair to the mound to kick off the series on Friday night. Sinclair has a 2.49 ERA and leads the Bisons pitching staff with 73 strikeouts. Sophomore lefty Blake Fonfara will get the start on Saturday while Sunday’s starter has yet to be determined.
With this being the last home conference series, Lipscomb will award the Ken Dugan Award prior to Friday night’s 6 p.m. start.
Saturday is senior day and the game will begin at 2 p.m. ,following a ceremony to honor the Bisons six seniors.
Sunday’s game is slated to start at noon.
All three games this weekend will be carried live on the Lipscomb Sports Network as well as A-Sun TV.