NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Pounding out 16 hits, the Lipscomb baseball team opened a 3-game Atlantic Sun Conference series with a 9-7 win over ETSU on Friday night at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
The offensive outburst for the Bisons (19-12, 8-2 A-Sun) was propelled by a 5-for-5 night at the dish by junior left fielder Josh Lee and a 3-for-4 effort by junior center fielder Jonathan Allison. Josh Lee would add a pair of runs driven in and one scored while Allison drove in three and crossed home plate twice.
“I was feeling good today,” Allison said. “I’ve been struggling lately, so it’s nice to come out here tonight and be successful at the plate. I was seeing the ball pretty well tonight and my teammates were putting me in places to be successful.”
After a quick 1-2-3 to start the game, Allison started things with a bang on the offensive side with a leadoff shot over the left field wall to make it an early 1-0 lead. Senior right fielder Drew Adams followed with a one-out single before moving to second on a wild pitch. The veteran then scored to make it a 2-1 game on an RBI single by Josh Lee.
“Any time you can jump out on a team, especially at home, it’s always a confidence booster,” Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand said. “ETSU is a tough team and we knew they were coming back. We gave up one big inning, but for the most part we challenged them seven of the nine innings."
The Bisons kept the offense going in the second inning as junior second baseman Mike Korte drew a beaning to open the frame. Senior catcher Nick Rome followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt that hugged the third base line all the way to the bag before it caromed off the base for a base hit.
That set the table for Allison, who stepped in and hammered a pitch to the deepest part of the park off the base of the center field fence that cleared the bases and found the junior standing on third base with a bases-clearing triple.
The 5-0 cushion was short lived however as the Buccaneers answered with a two-run top of the third to cut the margin to three runs.
Lipscomb cranked the bats back up in the middle innings pushing across lone runs in the fourth and sixth frames and two in the fifth. The tally in the fifth came from a ball crushed by junior shortstop Grant Massey for his third home run of the season.
Brothers Josh and Adam Lee would play big roles in the two runs in the fifth as Josh laced a one-out double before scoring on a single by Adam, who would score one batter later when Rome hit a base hit to left to make it an 8-2 advantage.
Josh Lee then rounded out the scoring for the Bisons in the bottom of the sixth when the junior singled to right to bring home sophomore third baseman Austin Sistrunk.
ETSU would then counter with a 5-run seventh inning to take away what was a solid lead for the Bisons but that is as close as the visitors would come.
The 16 hits hits marks the 13th time on the season that Bisons have pounded out 10 or more hits in a contest and are 11-2 when the bats are cranking.
“We never talk about getting base hits too much,” Forehand said. “You never want to chase the hits, just want to get quality at-bats. More times than not, quality at-bats are what will lead to the hits. So anytime you can get double figure hits, something good is going to come of it.”
Ian Martinez-McGraw picked up his fifth win of the season on the hill working six full innings. The junior gave up six earned runs and 10 hits while fanning four Bucs. Junior southpaw Jason Ziegler notched his second save of the year going the final three innings allowing one hit and one earned run.
“Ian has been solid for us in just about every start this year,” Forehand said. “It seems like he has taken us one extra inning in each game and he is going to break through and throw a complete game pretty soon.
“Ziegler came in when Ian got into some trouble in the seventh and was lights out for us to stop the bleeding and finish the game up.”
Austin Hutcison took the loss for ETSU surrendering eight earned runs and 12 hits in four and one-thirds innings of work.
“Every game is tough and ETSU has a really good ball club,” Forehand said. “We’ve just got to come back tomorrow and hopefully get more of the same. It should be an exciting series as ETSU is one of the best prepared teams we have faced this season.”
The series between the two in-state foes continues on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Dugan Field.