FORT MYERS, Fla. – Following a campaign that featured a school record 35 wins and a No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, the Lipscomb baseball team was rewarded with eight Atlantic Sun Conference Postseason honors on Tuesday afternoon.
Senior shortstop Grant Massey highlighted the Bisons postseason haul as he was named the A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year to go along with an A-Sun All-Conference first team selection.
Senior Ian Martinez-McGraw joined Massey on the first team while seniors Nick Andros and Jonathan Allison, junior Chucky Vazquez and freshman Michael Gigliotti and Jeffrey Passantino were voted onto the A-Sun All-Conference second team.
The future also looks bright for Lipscomb as Gigliotti, Passantino and Brady Puckett were elected to the A-Sun All-Freshman team.
Lipscomb led all teams and set a program recored with eight players earning postseason honors. Massey and Martinez-McGraw’s first-team laurels were the first for Lipscomb since 2010 when Josh Smith earned the distinction.
SS | Grant Massey | Defensive Player of the Year | First Team All-Conference
Massey finished second on the team with a .345 average at the plate. The Auburn, Alabama native recorded 14 extra-base hits, scored 33 times and drove in 43 runs. He drew 15 walks and finished third in the league with 18 stolen bases.
The sure-handed veteran helped turn 32 double plays with 167 assists and 77 putouts, making just five errors in 249 total chances. He led all A-Sun shortstops with a .980 fielding percentage and was a main reason Lipscomb posted a .977 fielding percentage as a team, which ranked 11th in the nation and second in the A-Sun.
Earlier in the season Massey made the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List for the nation’s top shortstop. He was also named the A-Sun’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
RP | Ian Martinez-McGraw | First Team All-Conference
Martinez-McGraw thrived atop the Bisons weekend rotation, posting a 7-3 mark on the mound with a 2.39 ERA, the fifth-lowest in the A-Sun. In a team-high 86.2 innings pitched, the Pueblo, Colorado native struck out 53 batters, including a career-best seven against Quinnipiac, and held the opposition to a career-low .259 batting average.
The knuckleballer finished second in the A-Sun with 14 starts, allowing just 23 runs in those outings and earned the A-Sun Pitcher of the Week on February 16 after tossing a two-hit performance in six innings to garner a win over Butler in the season opener.
His .727 career win-loss percentage (16-6) is tied for second best among active A-Sun pitchers.
On Monday, Martinez-McGraw was named the A-Sun Baseball Scholar Athlete of the Year after graduating Cum Laude with a 3.68 cumulative GPA majoring in psychology.
Massey and Martinez-McGraw earned second team All-Conference a year ago.
RP | Nick Andros | Second Team All-Conference
Andros is wrapping up a versatile two-year career that saw him do double duty as a weekend starter and a reliever. The Tunnel Hill, Illinois product put together a 5-1 record with a 3.30 ERA while seeing action in a team-high 19 appearances with seven starts.
The southpaw struck out 54 batters in 62.2 innings pitched and recorded four saves. When Andros stepped on the rubber, Lipscomb was 16-3, making him a key ingredient of the Bisons’ top-ranked pitching staff in the A-Sun.
OF | Jonathan Allison | Second Team All-Conference
Allison transferred to Lipscomb by-way of Volunteer State Community College in 2014 and became an instant anchor in the field, starting 112 games in the outfield.
The lefty broke out in a big way this season, batting .310 at the dish with a career-best seven home runs to finish second on the squad. He is sixth in the A-Sun with 51 RBI and eighth in doubles with 14. He also finished inside the top 10 in the A-Sun with 12 stolen bases.
Allison showed patience at the plate by drawing a team-high 30 free passes compared to just 26 punch outs.
The left fielder was perfect in the field with 75 putouts and five assists.
C | Chucky Vazquez| Second Team All-Conference
Vazquez proved to be one of the top backstops in the conference ranking second among catchers with 20 or more starts in runners caught stealing percentage (.333). The Miami native finished the season sixth in the league after throwing out nine base runners in 37 games.
The junior transfer hit .235 at the plate, but began to come into his own during conference play by upping his average to .298. He scored 20 runs, hit five doubles, three home runs and knocked in 20. Vazquez also showed some speed on the base paths swiping six bags in eight attempts.
OF | Michael Gigliotti | Second Team All-Conference | All-Freshman Team
Gigliotti started 52 games in center field and put together a strong case for freshman of the year.
The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native hit for a team-high .352 batting average this season and currently ranks among the league’s leaders in several statistical categories including hits (74 – 3rd), stolen bases (17 – 4th), on-base percentage (.352 – 4th), runs scored (47 – 5th), triples (3 – 5th) and total bases (97 – 13th).
He also hit five doubles, four home runs and drew 22 walks from his leadoff position.
Gigliotti upped his production against A-Sun foes batting .386. His .480 on-base percentage ranked second while his 10 stolen bases were first.
The speedy freshman led the NCAA with 21 bunt singles and was a primary reason for Lipscomb finished second in the nation as a team with 34.
He earned his first-career A-Sun weekly honor last week after batting .600 with nine hits in 15 at-bats while helping the Bisons to a 3-1 week en route to clinching the second seed in this week’s championship.
SP | Jeffrey Passantino | Second Team All-Conference | All-Freshman Team
After starting the year in a primary relief role, Passantino continued to improve and eventually found himself in the weekend rotation, finishing the season as one of the elite starters in the A-Sun, posting a 4-1 record with one save and a 2.21 ERA, the second lowest mark in the conference.
He punched out a team-high 62 batters in 61.0 innings pitched and walked just 13 while holding opponents to a league-best .203 batting average against. His 9.15 strikeouts per nine innings pitched is the fourth-best total in the conference.
The Fort Myers, Florida native found an extra gear when toeing the rubber against A-Sun foes, becoming almost untouchable. In seven appearances with six starts, the righty topped the league with a blistering 1.01 ERA. He held opponents to a .186 average, allowing just five earned runs in 44.2 frames. He fanned 39 batters and walked just six.
Before giving up a two-out home run to Northern Kentucky in his last outing Passantino had tossed 19.0 consecutive scoreless innings.
He was twice named the A-Sun Pitcher of the Week after impressive road performances against USC Upstate and Florida Gulf Coast. He struck out a career high nine batters in 7.1 innings against the Spartans to pick up his first collegiate win. Two starts later against the Eagles the tossed a career-long 8.1 shutout frames with five punch outs.
SP | Brady Puckett | All-Freshman Team
Puckett showed great versatility for Lipscomb as the Bisons utilized him as a middle reliever to begin his career before moving into a mid-week starting role and eventually as the Sunday anchor to close the regular season. The Murfreesboro product made 13 appearances with nine starts.
In 65.1 innings pitched he put together a 6-2 record with a 4.82 ERA. All six of his wins came away from Nashville, defining the 6-foot-8 freshman as a true road warrior.
Puckett struck out 39 batters and walked 22 on the season. He was named A-Sun Pitcher of the Week on May 4 after working eight complete innings of two-hit ball at FGCU.
In only his second-career start the hometown kid tossed a complete game in front of friends and family at Middle Tennessee. He faced just four batters above the minimum and only reached a three-ball count twice. He retired 16-straight batters at one point and did not allow a run until he had two outs in the ninth inning.
Perhaps his highlight of the year came on April 7 when the Bisons ventured into Hawkins Field and took down then No. 1 Vanderbilt. Puckett pitched 7.1 innings scattering five hits and allowing just one run. He struck out six and walked two.
North Florida’s Donnie Dewees was named the A-Sun Player of the Year while skipper Smoke Laval earned Coach of the Year. Jacksonville’s Michael Baumann won Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year.
Lipscomb returns to the diamond on Wednesday May 20 when it takes on No. 5 FGCU in the opening round of the A-Sun Baseball Championship in Fort Myers, Florida. The game’s first pitch is slated for 6 p.m. CT.