JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - No. 4 North Florida left it late, but the Ospreys produced a late comeback to stay alive in the 2018 ASUN Conference Baseball Championship and setup a River City Rumble rematch to see who the second finalist on Saturday will be. The Ospreys won 7-6 to eliminate No. 5 Lipscomb on Friday afternoon.
Trailing 6-3 entering the bottom of the eighth inning, North Florida came up with four runs to take a 7-6 lead. Mac Wilson and Jay Prather led off the inning with back-to-back singles, before Rey Gonzalez worked a walk to load the bases. After a strikeout, Max Law came off the bench and delivered a sacrifice fly to deep left center to trim the Bisons lead to 6-4. Chris Berry then followed with an RBI single to right field to make it a 6-5 ball game. After Dalton Board worked another walk, Tanner Murphy came up clutch with a two-run single to left field to give the Ospreys the lead.
Matt Vaka earned his first victory of the season as he pitched three innings without allowing an earned run. He shut down the Bisons in the top of the ninth to preserve the victory and send the Ospreys to a second elimination game. Lipscomb had taken the lead thanks to the long ball once again as Jeffrey Crisan slugged his third homer in three days to give Lipscomb a 5-3 lead in the seventh inning. His third homer of the Championship was a bomb that went over the scoreboard in left field. Josh Martinez added an RBI single in the seventh to make it a 6-3 lead. Prior to that, Blake Thomas had an RBI double to get the Bisons even at 3-3.
The top of the Osprey order was too much to handle though today as Berry, Board and Murphy each registered two RBI to lead the offense. Crisan, Martinez and Maddux Houghton each had two hits for the Bisons as they finish their season with a 24-30 record.
North Florida improves to 27-27 and will take on Jacksonville later tonight with first pitch slated for 7 PM live on ESPN+. The winner of the contest advances to Saturday's Championship Final against the top seed Stetson Hatters, who defeated Jacksonville earlier in the day 9-8 to stay undefeated on the season.
No. 4 North Florida vs. No. 5 Lipscomb Additional Notes
- The Ospreys recorded double-digit hits for the 22nd time this season after getting 12 hits in this contest. Ten of those efforts have come against ASUN competition.
- Tanner Murphy broke through with his first RBI of the Championship. He now has three hits in the postseason, after recording just one hit in the first two days.
- Matt Vaka has only pitched twice since May 5, but has not allowed an earned run in those two outings.
- Lipscomb ends the season with 46 home runs, which leads the ASUN. Crisan recorded his ninth homer of the season, after only having three homers in his first two seasons combined.
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