FORT MYERS, Fla. – Freshman hurler and Fort Myers native, Jeffrey Passantino put the Lipscomb baseball team on his back and threw a gem to lead the Lipscomb baseball team to a 1-0 victory over Florida Gulf Coast Saturday at Swanson Stadium.
“It’s been surreal for me being back at home,” Passantino said. “I have been fired up about this game all year knowing we were coming down here to play my hometown team. I was a little nervous in the first inning, but I got out of it and began to get a feel for the mound and settle down.
“It was great to have somewhat of a home crowd on the road with a lot of friends and family in the stands.”
Passantino stifled the Eagles’ bats from the get go, allowing just four hits in 8.1 innings pitched. He struck out five and walked two while improving to 2-1 on the year.
The Bisons (29-15, 8-6 A-Sun) touched up the All-American Michael Murray in the fifth inning, scoring the game’s only run.
Sophomore third baseman Hunter Hanks drilled a one-out single through the left side. Junior catcher Chucky Vazquez then doubled to the right centerfield gap to plate Hanks from first.
“Chucky has just been improving with each and every game,” Forehand said. “He has come up with some big hits this season. Coach Phillips has done a great job of working with him and preparing him for these moments.”
FGCU (24-21-1, 7-6) mounted its best scoring chance in the final stanza after Passantino gave a free pass to the leadoff man. Following a single from Passantino’s former high school teammate Nick Rivera, he recorded the first out of the inning on a sacrifice bunt.
Forehand then decided to go to the bullpen for senior Jason Ziegler. The lefty collected his fourth save of the season after working the final two outs.
“This was a huge team win for us and it gives us some momentum heading into tomorrow,” Passantino said. “We aren’t done. We have them right where we want them, now we just have to finish it out.”
The biggest play of the game came on the first batter Ziegler faced when he got Zach Spivey to pop a bunt foul just in front of Lipscomb’s dugout. First baseman Adam Lee got a good break on the ball and made a spectacular diving grab.
Murray, the reigning A-Sun Pitcher of the Year, fell to 4-6 with the loss. He was equally impressive, tossing 8.1 innings giving up six hits, one run and striking out seven.
Around the Horn:
- Lipscomb has now won six of its last eight meetings with FGCU. It is the first series win in Fort Myers for the Bisons in program history.
- Passantino lowered his ERA to 2.68 on the year.
- The win marked the third shutout of the season for the pitching staff.
- Gigliotti has now reached base in 17 straight games, while Vazquez extends his streak to 10.
The Bisons will close out the series with FGCU Sunday at noon CT. Freshman Brady Puckett (4-2, 6.80 ERA) will get the nod on the mound for Lipscomb. FGCU’s starter is still unknown.
Check back later for a full recap including postgame reaction from skipper Jeff Forehand.
“This was a fun game for our whole team to watch,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand. “Going against a pitcher like (Michael) Murray we knew runs would be at a premium, so when we got that one we had to protect it at all cost.
“One run usually doesn’t win a ball game, but today it did. Jeffrey threw a great game for us; this was just a big team win.”