FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2009
Baseball holds off Lipscomb, 7-6, to take game one
Junior Chuck Opachich
Junior Chuck Opachich
In what was supposed to be a pitching duel turned into a slugfest as Matt Loosen and Rex Brothers were both touched up but the JU baseball team held off Lipscomb, 7-6, Friday evening at John Sessions Stadium.

JU (26-12, 15-7) scored seven runs in the first four innings to run Brothers from the game but had to sweat out final innings to win its third straight.

LU (16-25, 10-9) rallied for four runs in the sixth and a run in the eighth to pull within one but could not find a way to tie the contest.

With one out in the top of the ninth, Tennyson Dodd hit a drive to right but a routine single turned into a triple when a diving attempt allowed the ball to roll to the wall.

In the next at-bat, junior Carson Andrew threw a wide pitch to the back stop but senior catcher Jeremy Gillan tracked it down and gunned to a covering Andrew at the dish. Andrew blocked the plate with his right foot, allowing him to tag pinch-runner James Tunnell on the slide and register the second out of the inning.

The Bisons got a single to center by Antonio Butler to keep the inning alive but Andrew struck out M.L. Williams to seal the game.

“I’m glad we got the win but I’m disappointed in the way we let them back in the game,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “We knocked the best pitcher in the conference out of the ballgame and we then took our foot off the throttle. Luckily, we were able to hold them off but we need to keep the pressure on them if we are going to win this series.”

Loosen (3-0) earned the win after allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits with five walks and six strikeouts in 5.2 innings of work. Junior Kyle Kriech added 2.1 innings of solid relief before Andrew notched his first save with a scoreless ninth.

Brothers (4-5) was tagged with the loss after allowing seven runs (six earned) on seven hits while walking six and striking out six with three wild pitches and a hit batter in four innings. Josh Cotham kept the Bisons in the contest by scattering three hits in four innings of perfect relief.

Junior second baseman Chuck Opachich, who had his program-tying 27 game hitting streak snapped on April 18, led the Dolphins by going 4-for-5 with three RBI. Junior first baseman Alex Martinez and freshman center fielder Jonathan Murphy each finished with multiple hits.

Williams led Lipscomb by finishing 3-for-5 while Andrew Nickerson and Butler each finished with multiple hits.

The Dolphins jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first when Martinez hit an RBI infield single with two outs. With one out, sophomore shortstop Jamaal Hawkins beat out a high chopper to second and then advanced to second on a single up the middle by senior catcher Jeremy Gillan. After both runners advanced on a wild pitch, Martinez beat out a high chopper to third to drive in the game’s first run.

JU made it 4-0 in the second when Opachich hit a two-run single and a run scored on a wild pitch. Senior left fielder Kyle Fleming drew a walk to lead off the inning and then moved to second on an infield single to short by Murphy. After both runners advanced on a double steal with one out, Opachich hit a ball back up the middle to clear the bases. Opachich advanced to second on a walk to Hawkins and both runners advanced on a double steal, Brothers bounced a ball in the dirt to score Opachich from third.

The Bisons threatened with a runner on second with two outs but Loosen got Williams to fly out to center to end the inning.

The Dolphins increased the lead to 6-0 in the third when Murphy and Opachich each hit RBI singles. Sophomore right fielder Chris Connelly drew a walk to lead off the inning and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. With one out, Murphy laced a single to right center to drive in Connelly and advanced to second when Butler miss played the ball in right. After Murphy advanced to third on a passed ball, Opachich dropped a single into center with two outs to plate another run.

The Bisons cut the deficit to 6-1 in the fourth when a run scored on a fielding error by the Dolphins with two outs. Lipscomb still threatened with runners on first and third but Loosen got Logan Hostettler to pop out to short to end the inning.

JU increased the lead to 7-1 in the fourth when Fleming hit an RBI ground out to second. After Gillan, freshman designated hitter Kevin Lehane and Martinez drew consecutive walks to load the bases, Fleming hit a chopper to second to plate Gillan with one out.

Lipscomb cut the deficit to 7-5 in the sixth when Nickerson, Butler and Williams each hit an RBI single while Allen Bolden drove in a run when he was hit by a pitch. The Bisons still threatened with the bases loaded with two outs but Kriech entered the game and struck out Justin Sanders swinging, on a 3-2 count, to end the inning.

The Bisons threatened in the seventh with runners on second and third with two outs but Kriech got Butler to strike out looking to end the inning.

Lipscomb cut the margin to 7-6 in the eighth when Bolden hit a sacrifice fly to left. The Bisons still threatened with a runner on third with two outs but Kriech got Branden Cadavid to fly out to right to end the inning.

The Dolphins and the Bisons will continue its series on Saturday at Noon at John Sessions Stadium. The game can be seen live through ASun.TV on JUDolphins.com and can be heard live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan calling all of the action.