BASEBALL: Hilltoppers steal series from Lipscomb

Danny Schoenbaechler

Playing a collegiate sport is often likened to having a full-time job.

If that is true, then the Western bullpen should buy Daniel Faulkner a dinner. That’s because he gave all the relievers the day off Friday.

The junior right-hander tossed Western’s first complete game of the season as he led his squad to a 5-2 win over Lipscomb.

“I felt pretty good,” Faulkner said. “My slider and changeup were working well.”

Having the day off proved to be very valuable since the pen would be needed in the following two games of the series, especially on Sunday.

Faulkner is now 3-2 on the season and struck out a season-high nine batters while giving up just seven hits.

“Daniel’s mound presence was outstanding,” coach Joel Murrie said. “He showed a lot of poise.”

The win snapped a two-game losing streak which was highlighted, or from the Western (9-10) perspective low-lighted, by an 18-6 loss to in-state rival Kentucky.

“We’ve never lost momentum,” Murrie said. “In the games we’ve played, we played solid baseball, solid defense and good hitting. It’s just a matter of playing all phases of the game.”

The Bisons were behind 5-2 in the eighth and showed signs of coming back. Lipscomb (3-10) loaded the bases with just one out, but Faulkner remained in command as he induced freshman Russell Nixon to hit a ground ball to the shortstop which started an inning-ending double-play.

The Friday win came at Denes Field, but the two teams then headed south and played each of the following two days.

On Saturday, Lipscomb got its revenge by beating Western 10-8. Lipscomb scored in each of the first-four innings and added four runs in the sixth.

The third and decisive game of the series came down to Western’s bullpen holding Lipscomb off long enough for the Topper bats to score the go-ahead run in the eighth and a much-needed insurance run in the ninth.

Junior Michael Shore threw five innings of relief to pick up his first win of the season.

“We played decent over the weekend but not our best,” senior Matt Ransdell said. “We’re getting there, but we are still inconsistent right now.”

Western will start a home series at 3 p.m. Wednesday against Youngstown State.

Reach Danny Schoenbaechler at [email protected]