UNF Baseball falls to Lipscomb in stormy conference final

Joslyn Simmons

UNF shortstop Kyle Brooks attempting to turn a double play during the conference final in Fort Myers, Fla.  Photo courtesy asunphotos.com
UNF shortstop Kyle Brooks attempting to turn a double play during the conference final in Fort Myers, Fla.
Photo courtesy asunphotos.com

The North Florida Osprey baseball team lost to Lipscomb University, 8-7, in the team’s first ever Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Final on Saturday night in Fort Myers, Florida. The Lipscomb Bisons had been seeded right below UNF at No. 2 entering the tournament.

Lipscomb dealt North Florida its first lost of the conference championship on Friday, securing their position in the final. The Bisons had the luxury of over 24 hours worth of rest before they had to compete in the conference final.

After a storm delayed elimination victory over the No. 4 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, 8-2, the Ospreys had to immediately go up against the Bisons in the conference final. The Ospreys scored three runs in the third inning for the initial lead over the Bisons. The Bisons answered back with five runs of their own in the fourth inning.

In the fifth inning, the Bisons scored their sixth run behind Josh Lee’s sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Michael Gigliotti. North Florida’s Corbin Olmstead kept the team alive via two runs over the next few innings. Garrick Ferguson put up a sacrifice fly to left field that allowed Olmstead to sprint home from third base. UNF’s Nick Karmeris singled up the middle in the bottom of the eighth with two outs on the board, sending Olmstead around the bases to home plate on a fielding error committed by Lipscomb center fielder Gigliotti.

Swanson Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. before the conference final begins Photo  courtesy asunphotos.com
Swanson Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. before the conference final begins
Photo courtesy asunphotos.com

Ahead by one at the top of the ninth frame, the Bisons managed to increase the lead after an error by UNF third baseman Trent Higginbothem, bringing Gigliotti in for the score. Their last run would come from Grant Massey’s RBI single to center field, driving in Adam Lee.

Down by three at the top of the final inning, the Ospreys desperately tried to find a much-needed rally. A Bison fielding error brought in UNF shortstop Kyle Brooks to narrow the deficit to two runs. With just one out, Higginbothem singled up middle driving in Donnie Dewees in a fitting final run for the game and possibly the season. North Florida’s Bubba Olivera pinch ran for Higginbothem but was sent out by the catcher while attempting to steal second base. First baseman Ryan Roberson was up next with no runners in scoring positions. Roberson grounded out to Lipscomb shortstop Massey, bringing a close to the A-Sun Conference Championship, with Lipscomb claiming the conference title.

North Florida finished the season at 45-16 overall, with a small possibility of being selected for the NCAA Regional Championship just around the corner.

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