NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb baseball team backed a strong pitching performance from redshirt sophomore Dalton Curtis Tuesday night by erasing a three-run deficit to triumph over in-state foe Middle Tennessee 11-3 at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“Tonight seemed like two different games,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “For the first half of the game, we played like we didn't want to be there and put ourselves in a three-run hole. But when we finally started getting guys on base it changed our momentum and Middle made a couple of mistakes to help our cause."
The Bisons scored 11 unanswered runs to end the game and improve to 27-15 overall on the year. Middle Tennessee slipped to 24-20 with the loss.
Curtis entered in relief in the sixth frame and pitched the best outing of his short career. The righty worked just 2.2 innings, but it is what he did in that short time that has Forehand excited his future.
Curtis faced 10 batters and did not give up a hit. He recorded eight outs with seven of coming via strikeout, a career high.
“This is the kind of performance from Dalton that we expect every time,” Forehand said. “Seven strikeouts in two and two-thirds innings are as good as it gets. I am excited for him and he gives us another weapon in the bullpen.
“He is capable of this every time out, he has that kind of stuff.”
Curtis picked up the win and improved to 1-0 on the year.
Although the Bisons were out hit 9-7 on the night, they took advantage of two costly Middle Tennessee miscues to score double-digit runs for the eighth time this season..
In the sixth inning with Lipscomb trailing 3-2 and the bases loaded, junior catcher Chucky Vazquez hit into a fielder’s choice to short. Austin Bryant made the stab, but sailed his throw into right field to allow two runs to cross and give the Bisons a 4-3 lead.
Senior Mike Korte kept the run-producing alive with a single to center field, scoring Josh Lee who reached base on a four-pitch walk.
In the next at-bat Blue Raider backstop Michael Adkins attempted a pick off at first base, but tossed his throw into the right field corner, allowing Vazquez to score from third and Korte to come around all the way from first.
Lipscomb added to its run total in the seventh inning by hanging four more runs on Middle Tennessee’s pitching staff.
Josh Lee hit an infield single to third base to score freshman Michael Gigliotti. Following a walk from Hunter Hanks, Vazquez drew a bases-loaded walk to plate Jonathan Allison.
After a pitching change, Korte capped the night’s scoring with a 2-RBI single to center field. He finished the night with a season-high three RBI.
“This was a good game for Mike to bounce back,” Forehand said. “His two base knocks were huge for us and they came at an important time in the game. He sparked our offense tonight.”
Hanks got the Lipscomb offense moving in the fifth stanza by launching his third bomb of the season over the left field fence.
Around the Horn:
- With the win the Bisons have now beaten the Blue Raiders in eight of the last nine meetings.
- Korte was the lone Bison to finish with multiple hits. He was 2-for-4 with a run scored.
- Massey broke a 0-for-13 slump at the plate in the sixth inning with a leadoff single.
- Allison ripped his team-leading 12th double of the season.
- Four Bisons scored multiple runs. Allison, J. Lee, Hanks and Vazquez all scored twice.
- Kyle Weller pitched 5.1 innings while making his third career start. He scattered eight hits and allowed three runs. He struck out four and walked two.
- Redshirt junior Geordie Carlson made his third appearance of the year in the ninth frame. He allowed one hit and faced four batters.
- Senior Griffin Moore saw his first action in a month after injuring his arm at Belmont on March 31. He had pitched in seven games before the injury, but Tuesday he got his first at-bat of the season.
- Gigliotti and Massey swiped their team-leading 14th bag of the season, while Allison stole his 12th.
The Purple and Gold will hit the “Sunshine State” for a second time this season when it travels to Fort Myers to face the reigning Atlantic Sun Conference regular season champion Florida Gulf Coast this weekend. The three-game series is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday.
“It’s a tough place to play down there and they (FGCU) are playing really well right now,” Forehand said. “We know every weekend we are going to play a good team, so we just have to concentrate on us. We all have seen what can happen when we play our game.