NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Once thawed out the Lipscomb baseball team’s bats came alive to plate a trio of runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to take a season-opening win over Butler 9-3 Friday afternoon at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“We started off a little slow and didn’t get the bats going until later,” head coach Jeff Forehand said. “But once we were able to score three runs in the fifth with two outs, we started to heat up.
Butler opened the scoring in the top half of the second after a walk and a single put two men on with no outs. Following a sacrifice bunt by catcher Will Amador, a passed ball allowed designated hitter Ryan Wojciechowski to score from third make it a 1-0 Butler lead.
Still trailing in the fifth, Lipscomb freshman Michael Gigliotti and senior Grant Massey got things going after each reached base on a two-out walk. Senior left fielder Jonathan Allison laced a two-RBI double down the right field line to give Lipscomb a 2-1 lead.
“I was pretty nervous in my first at-bat,” Gigliotti said. “But once I got that out of the way, it just felt like any other game. I just try to do everything I can for the seniors. This year is all about them, because it’s their last season and I just really want to win for them.”
Sophomore third baseman Hunter Hanks singled to right field and Allison came around to score on a misplayed ball by Amador at the plate to push the lead to 3-1.
With two men on the in sixth, first baseman Adam Lee doubled to left center to plate Mike Korte and brother Josh Lee.
Gigliotti used his speed to reach base on a bunt single back to the pitcher to keep things going with one out. Massey followed suit with a single of his own as Adam Lee came around to score and make it 6-1.
“Knowing my role at the top is key,” Gigliotti said. “It’s like Coach Phillips always says, ‘make it pleasure not pressure.’ I just try to find ways to get on base. Once we get on it becomes pretty contagious throughout the lineup and hits lead to other hits.”
After Butler added two in the top of the seventh, Josh Lee and Jeffrey Crisan led off the home half of the inning with back-to-back doubles. A walk and a sacrifice bunt put men at second and third for Gigliotti. The leadoff speedster bounced a ball just over the head of the first baseman to knock in both runners for his first career RBIs.
Senior hurler Ian Martinez-McGraw picked right up where he left off last season, working six innings and giving up just two hits and one unearned run. He struck out two and walked three.
“It was a typical game from Ian,” Forehand said. “We get spoiled because we know what we are getting from Ian every Friday night. The consistency he gives us on Friday is something we look for in every outing. I am happy with the start he got today.”
Jeff Schank took the loss for the Bulldogs. He gave up four hits and three runs in five innings.
- Friday was the fourth meeting between the two schools. The win evens the series at 2-2. Butler took 2-of-3 in Nashville in March of 2013.
- The win marks the third season-opening victory in the last four seasons for the Bisons.
- Gigliotti earned his first career start as a Bison. He led the team with three hits and swiped the lone stolen base of the day.
- Crisan made his collegiate debut in the seventh when he entered at catcher. He sent the first pitch he saw to the wall in right center to record his first career hit and RBI.
- Gigliotti, Allison and Adam Lee all had two RBI’s to lead Lipscomb in the win.
- Preseason All-Conference selection Jason Ziegler worked two innings in relief and gave up three hits and two unearned runs. He also fanned two batters.
With the forecast showing temperatures in the high 20s, Sunday's game has been moved to Saturday and the two teams will now play a Valentine's Day doubleheader beginning at noon. The Bisons will then make the short trek to Murfreesboro on Tuesday, Feb. 17 for a 3 p.m. game with Middle Tennessee.
“We just have to get more of the same tomorrow and Sunday,” Forehand said. “If we can get to our goals offensively and get good pitching, we should have a good opening weekend. I am excited and ready to get back at it on Saturday.”