NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Powered by a 3-run, third-inning blast from junior second baseman Mike Korte, the Lipscomb baseball team downed nonconference foe Tennessee Tech 8-4 on “Senior Night” at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“From a coaching standpoint we swung the bats a lot better tonight,” Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand said. “Mike’s home run was a big lift because when you can jump out with five early runs, it gives you a big cushion to play with.
“Tennessee Tech is such a good team that five runs is not a big deal for them, but I am proud of the way our guys fought to get the win.”
The Bisons (27-20) wasted little time getting on the scoreboard putting a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. Junior shortstop Grant Massey got things started with a one-out single the opposite way to right field before heading to third on a double to left field by senior right fielder Drew Adams.
That set the table for sophomore third baseman Austin Sistrunk and the second-year player delivered a 2-RBI double to the warning track in center field to give Lipscomb the 2-0 advantage early.
The Golden Eagles (35-13) answered quickly in the top of the second when right fielder Brandon Thomasson cranked his 17th home run of the season and second of the weekend to cut the lead in half.
“You have to give Thomasson credit,” Forehand said. “He is as good a hitter as we’ve seen all year long. You have to make good pitches and pitch around him when you can. He is just a great hitter.”
Lipscomb would counter in the bottom of the third when Korte smashed the first pitch he saw into Lake Lipscomb behind the right field fence. His second dinger of the season brought home Sistrunk who was plunked earlier in the frame and junior designated hitter Griffin Moore, who previously singled.
Up 5-1, the Bisons added a pair of runs in the fourth loading the bases with no outs as junior center fielder Jonathan Allison started the frame with a leadoff base knock up the middle before Massey and Adams walked. After getting a pair of outs, it looked like Tech might get out of the inning without any damage, but Moore had other ideas and punched a base hit between third base and shortstop to bring two runs in.
“It was a good at-bat for Griffin,” Forehand said. “He went to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and was able to sneak the ball through the six-hole for two RBIs. I am proud of his effort with that at-bat because it was a big play for us to extend our lead.”
The six-run cushion was short lived however for the Purple and Gold as Tech manufactured a run after a leadoff walk. The Golden Eagles then added a pair of tallies in the seventh on a 2-run blast by left fielder Anthony El Chibani.
Lipscomb would then play good fundamental baseball in the bottom of the seventh to manufacture the game’s final run. Korte opened the frame with a single to center before moving up 90 feet on catcher Tyler Bethune’s sacrifice bunt.
An Allison ground out to the right side moved Korte over to third and then Massey laced a ball between short and third that allowed Korte to score easily.
“Our offensive production hasn’t been what we’ve wanted to be lately,” Forehand said. “We talk about, work on and preach every day about our opportunities. Our offense is built on situational hitting and when we take advantage of that we are a solid ball club.
“We have talked about it all year long, so when we see the guys produce in those situations it is a good thing for us.”
Redshirt junior Hunter Brothers (3-2) picked up the win on the hill giving up two earned runs in six full innings of work. The righty gave up only three hits while walking three and fanning five.
“Hunter did a great job tonight,” Forehand said. “He is really coming into his own and really maturing as a pitcher. This was another quality start for us and a solid outing for him.”
Lipscomb junior southpaw Nick Andros picked up his second save of the season working the final three innings for the Bisons. Andros allowed two earned runs, three hits, two walks and struck out two Golden Eagles.
Chris Chism (4-3) took the loss for Tennessee Tech surrendering six earned runs, seven hits and a pair of walks in three innings of work. The right hander also struck out two batters.
In a pregame ceremony, the Bisons took a moment to honor 2014 seniors Drew Adams, Conor Moynihan, Nick Rome, Chad Shannon, and Weston Wolfe.
“Tech is really good at their field,” Forehand said. “Norman has to give us a good performance and we have to do the things we practice all the time and if we do, we should be in good shape.”
The two teams will play the rubber game of the series on Sunday afternoon in Cookeville. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. at Busch Stadium.