NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a game that entered the ninth inning tied, the Lipscomb baseball team could not hold on as North Florida scored with two outs to take the series opener 4-3 Friday night at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“It was a good game, but you have to give credit to North Florida." Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. "They made one more play than we did.”
Lipscomb (19-12, 1-3 A-Sun) wasted little time in manufacturing the first run of the night when Michael Gigliotti led off the bottom of the first with a single into left field and then swiped second to get into scoring position. Shortstop Grant Massey then laced a standup-double to the wall in right center, scoring Gigliotti for a 1-0 Lipscomb lead.
With one swing of the bat UNF (26-11, 5-2 A-Sun) tied the game when Keith Skinner turned on the first pitch of the inning from Lipscomb’s Ian Martinez-McGraw.
In the bottom of the second, sophomore third baseman Hunter Hanks gave the Bisons a 2-1 lead when he launched his first home run of the season over the trees beyond the left field fence.
The Ospreys tied things up again with another first-pitch leadoff-home run, this time from all-around standout outfielder Donnie Dewees, his 11th of the season.
In the sixth frame North Florida grabbed its first lead of the night when Dewees led off the stanza with a leadoff triple to left field. He later scored on a wild pitch to give UNF a 3-2 lead.
In the bottom of the inning Lipscomb knotted it back up. Hanks got things going with a single to center field, his third hit of the night. Lee Solomon, who pinch hit for Jeffrey Crisan, moved Hanks over with a sacrifice bunt. Senior second baseman Mike Korte plated Hanks when he ripped a single to center.
The Bisons had a chance to take the lead in the seventh when Gigliotti worked the count full and drew a leadoff walk. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch. UNF made a pitching change and it paid off as Jamie Cardwell recorded back-to-back punch outs to Jonathan Allison and Josh Lee.
“That was tough,” Forehand said. “We have been accustomed to Allison and Josh coming through with the big hits, but UNF matched it up pretty well there. Both of those guys will have a chance to knock in a run tomorrow and I think they will.”
In the top of the ninth sophomore John Pryor gave up a leadoff walk that turned out to be the eventual game-winner as a clutch two-out single from Alex Merritt scored Trent Higginbothem.
Martinez-McGraw did not work into the decision as he gave up three runs in six innings pitched. He scattered seven hits and struck out four.
Pryor came on in relief and took the loss after working 2.2 frames. The southpaw gave up one run on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks. He falls to 1-2 on the year.
UNF reliever Bryan Baker recorded the win and improved to 4-2. He tossed 1.1 frames and did not allow a hit. He punched out two.
Hanks led the Bisons with a 3-for-4 night at the dish with one RBI and two runs scored. He recorded a hit in each of his first three at-bats.
Korte was the only other Bison to record multiple hits. He was 2-for-4 with a RBI.
- Lipscomb falls to 15-4 at home this season and just the second Friday night loss at Dugan.
- Massey stole his 11th bag of the season while Gigliotti swiped his ninth.
- Hanks tied his season high with three hits. He also had three on Feb. 20 against Austin Peay.
- Kyle Weller made an appearance out of the pen, pitching one-third of an inning.
- Lipscomb out-hit UNF 10-9.
Lipscomb and UNF continue the series on Saturday with a 2 p.m. first pitch. Jeffery Passantino will get the nod for the Bisons. He is 0-0 with a 4.58 ERA with 29 punch outs and seven walks. Tyler DuPont will be on the hill for the Ospreys with a 4-1 mark and a 4.50 ERA. He has 26 strikeouts and 10 walks.
“All we can do is put this one behind us and come back tomorrow and try to get the win,” Forehand said.