A solid starting pitching debut from Ian Martinez-McGraw kept the Lipscomb baseball squad in the game against No. 9 Vanderbilt, but in the end the Dores pitching staff prevailed in a 5-1 contest at Hawkins Field in Nashville.
“We don’t want to get into ‘moral’ victories,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand. “But we did make some strides tonight and we corrected a few things. Vandy is going to give a lot of teams a hard time.”
Hitting the road for the first time this season, Martinez-McGraw got his first starting nod for the Purple and Gold. The newcomer debuted his knuckleball and was able to keep the Vandy offense off balance for much of the night. The Pueblo, Colo. native tossed all eight innings for the Bisons (0-4) giving up three earned runs and seven hits while walking four and fanning three.
“I’m excited about what Ian did and that our defense played better than we played last weekend,” said Forehand. “Offensively, we knew what kind of game it was going to be today. We knew that runs were going to be limited because they pitch so well. “
The Commodores (4-0) took advantage of a Bison miscue in the first inning to get on the scoreboard right away. A high popup in shallow left center was unable to be corralled by Lipscomb shortstop Grant Massey and when the dust settled, Xavier Turner was standing on third base. That set the table for Zander Wiel and the first baseman delivered a single to right to open the scoring.
Lipscomb would also take advantage of a miscue in the next half inning as junior designated hitter Josh Lee reached on a throwing error before sophomore third baseman Austin Sistrunk singled through the right side to put runners on the corner.
A Massey walk loaded the bases for the Bisons and sophomore centerfielder Geordie Carlson hit a ground ball that scored Lee and pulled the game even 1-1.
Vandy did not take long to respond as Martinez-McGraw hit a rough patch in the third as VU loaded the bases with a bunt single, a hit-by-pitch and a walk. A single up the middle put the Commodores back in front 2-1 before a sac fly gave Vandy a two-run advantage after three complete.
The Dores would then score lone runs in the fifth and eighth innings giving the deep pitching staff all the insurance it would need.
Walker Buehler earned the win on the hill tossing five full innings and allowing four hits and one unearned run. The sophomore walked two and struck out six. The Vandy bullpen then played shutdown baseball without allowing a walk or hit for the Bisons in the final four innings of action.
The Bisons return home this weekend to Dugan Field hosting the “Mule Mix Classic” as Indiana State, Dayton and Miami (Ohio) come to the Music City. The round-robin event co-hosted by Belmont and Middle Tennessee gets underway at Dugan Field on Friday at 4 p.m. as the Bisons host Indiana State.
“We’re trying to be 1-0,” said Forehand. “We’ll try to be 1-0 on Friday and just continue to build this team in the way that we’ve prepped it so far. The strides we made tonight make me excited to want to come back Friday and see what happens.”