NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Josh Lee pinch hit double into the right centerfield gap proved to be the difference in Lipscomb baseball’s 4-3, 10-inning win over Atlantic Sun Conference foe Kennesaw State on Friday night at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“That was such a good game tonight, both teams really played well,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “It was a battle all game long. When you see a bunch of one’s go up on the scoreboard, there is some good pitching going on.”
With the game knotted a three, Josh Lee drove a 3-2 pitch toward Granny White that allowed fellow senior Tyson Ashcraft to scoot home from first after opening the bottom of the stanza with a leadoff walk. It was Josh Lee’s first appearance since injuring his wrist on April 12 against North Florida.
“I kind of had a feeling in batting practice that he was swinging it pretty good and that if we got into a situation with a lefty that I wanted to put Josh in,” Forehand said. “It was a great job by Josh to stand through that pitch and hit it in the gap to walk off.
“I am just so happy for him. He has been out a while with an injury, but coming back like that has to fire him up.”
The Bisons (26-13, 6-4 A-Sun) got going early when freshman centerfielder Michael Gigliotti drove a leadoff single into leftfield before advancing into scoring position with his 11th stolen base of the season. After moving to third on a fly out, Gigliotti crossed the dish on a sacrifice fly to deep left field from senior Jonathan Allison to give the Bisons a 1-0 lead.
Kennesaw State (22-20, 6-6 A-Sun) tied things up with a run in the top of the third, but Lipscomb quickly responded to grab the lead back 2-1, in the home half of the frame.
Gigliotti once again put things in motion with his 18th bunt single of the season. An errant throw from the pitcher allowed the speedster to advance to second. Senior Grant Massey laid down a sac bunt to put Gigliotti 90 feet from home plate. Allison came through with his second RBI of the night and the 38th of the season on a groundout to first.
In the bottom of the sixth with the game tied 2-2, freshman catcher Jeffrey Crisan doubled to deep centerfield just over the reach of the fielder’s glove to knock in Allan Hooker who had reached on a leadoff walk.
The Owls scored their final run of the night in the top of the seventh on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice that was unable to be turned into a double play.
Lipscomb had a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth with Adam Lee standing at third base with two outs. Allison stepped up and crushed a ball back up the middle, but unfortunately it was right at KSU’s second baseman Grant Williams.
Gigliotti played a huge role in helping get the win for the Bisons, leading the team with a 3-for-3 night at the plate with two stolen bases and a pair of runs scored.
Senior Nick Andros picked up the win in relief to improve to 5-0 on the season. The lefty tossed 3.2 innings of work allowing just one hit while walking a pair and fanning four.
“That was a great performance by Nick,” Forehand said. “Ian always sets the table for us and puts us in a great situation to win, so when you get relief like that out of your bullpen, good things are going to happen.
“Nick has been super for us this season and it was just a great job of picking it up after Ian.”
Righty Ian Martinez-McGraw made his 11th start of the year and worked 6.1 frames, scattering eight hits, two strikeouts and three runs in the outing. He tied his season high with six walks in the win.
Reigning A-Sun Co-Pitcher of the Week Jordan Hillyer, was able to avoid the loss, but allowed three runs on seven hits in 7.0 innings of work. He punched out 10 Bisons and walked four.
Around the Horn:
- Lipscomb has now won nine straight regular season meetings with the Owls. Their last win in Nashville came on April 6, 2012 in a 6-2 victory.
- The Bisons extended their season-best win streak to six games.
- The Purple and Gold improve to 18-5 at home this season.
- After swiping four stolen bases on the night, the Bisons now have 62 on the season. That matches the total for the entire 2014 season in 22 fewer games.
- The three hits for Gigliotti marks the sixth time this season he has recorded three or more hits. It was the first time of his career to have a perfect night at the plate.
- Friday was the second time of his career Gigliotti recorded multiple steals in a game. He swiped two in a win over La Salle on March 1.
- Lipscomb is now 13-0 when Andros makes an appearance on the mound, including 7-0 as a starter.
- He has tossed 7.2 scoreless innings in his last two appearances.
- Ashcraft was 2-for-3 on the night. He now has five two-hit games in the last six games and raised his season average to .290.
- Adam Lee had two hits on the night, his 13th multi-hit game of the year.
- Allison recorded his 11th multi-RBI game of his senior campaign.
- With his double, Josh Lee improved his team-high on-base streak to 13 games.
- Gigliotti improved his nation-leading bunt single total to 18.
The Bisons will look to keep the momentum rolling Saturday against the Owls. First pitch is tentatively slated for 2 p.m., but that start time could change depending on the inclement weather moving into the area. Check @BisonBaseball on twitter or LipscombSports.com for updates on any changes on the rest of the weekend’s festivities.