SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Propelled by 17 hits, the Lipscomb baseball team wasted little time jumping on USC Upstate in the rubber match at Harley Park Sunday to get an 11-1 victory and take the Atlantic Sun Conference series against the Spartans.
“It was a good win for our team,” Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand said. “We started off leaving a few runners on base, but the guys knew that if they kept getting good at-bats, the runs were going to come.
“The top and bottom of our lineup had a good day at the plate, driving in runs when we needed them. Today was a great all-around offensive performance.”
The win improved the Purple and Gold to 18-11 and 7-2 in league play, while Upstate fell to 10-19, 2-7 in the A-Sun.
Upstate freshman pitcher Zac Manuppelli struggled with his control early, walking Jonathan Allison and Grant Massy to start the game. Drew Adams then laid down his first bunt of the season that rolled up the third base line for an infield single to load the bases.
Tyson Ashcraft hit a blooper over the pitcher’s head to bring in Allison for Lipscomb’s first run of the day and take the lead 1-0.
The only trouble in what was a relatively easy day for Bisons hurler Denton Norman was in the bottom of the second when Daniel Seeba blasted an opposite-field solo home run over the right field fence to tie the game 1-1.
“Denton was sharp today,” Forehand said. “He made one mistake giving up the home run while behind in the count, but after that he was solid. He was in the zone and the defense continued to make plays behind him.
“I can’t say enough about our starting pitching and what he did for us today.”
Lipscomb plated two runs in the third on three consecutive hits. Designated hitter Griffin Moore drew a two-out walk. He then was moved over on the first of Adam Lee’s three hits on the day. Mike Korte brought Moore across the dish with a single to right. Redshirt freshman Tyler Bethune doubled down the left field line to score Adam Lee and give Lipscomb a 3-1 lead.
Adam Lee began the fifth inning with a base hit. After a balk and two quick outs, Allison, Massey and Adams connected on three straight RBI-hits to extend Lipscomb’s lead to 6-1.
The Purple and Gold tacked on four runs in the eighth and one in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
The Bisons had five players collect multiple base hits and seven different players drove in runs. Massey led the team at the dish, going 4-for-5 with an RBI and a walk. Massey also scored two runs in the game.
Adams increased his A-Sun lead in RBIs, knocking in his 34th and 35th in the win.
The top of the lineup in Allison, Massey and Adams combined to 10 hits, six runs, four RBIs and two walks.
“We hope that continues,” Forehand said. “Those guys are in the top of the order to produce and we expect that out of them every time we go to play.”
Norman got the win and took his record to 4-1 on the year. He gave up just four hits while allowing one run with one punch out and three walks.
Jason Ziegler saw his first work of the weekend after taking over for Norman in the eighth. He worked the last two innings, recording two strikeouts and giving up one hit.
Manuppelli took the loss and dropped to 3-3. In three innings, the freshman gave up six hits and three runs with four walks and one strikeout.
The Bisons have gone 17-4 since getting off to a 1-7 start to the season. Forehand talks about his team’s ability to stay in the moment and how they have turned the season around after a slow start.
“It’s a conglomeration of what we do every day in practice,” Forehand said. “The guys carry a spirit that shows what we are about as a team and I think they have really taken that team concept to the next level.
“The bottom line is we are winning series. When we have a chance to take a series, we come out ready and prepared to play. Today we had that chance and took advantage of it.”
Lipscomb returns to the diamond for a mid-week clash at Western Kentucky on Wednesday Apr. 2. The first pitch is slated for 6 p.m. in Bowling Green, Ky.