NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hearts were breaking across the state of Indiana Saturday as the Lipscomb baseball team finished off a season-opening sweep over Butler after getting 9-8, 8-3 wins in a Valentine’s Day twinbill at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
Lipscomb (3-0) pounded out 25 hits on Saturday and scored 17 runs on the day in route to earning the program’s first season-opening three-game sweep in its NCAA era.
“Having to play two games in one day is always hard, especially when it’s this cold outside,” Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand said. “But I thought we swung the bat pretty well this weekend. Coach Phillips and Coach Coon have done a tremendous job in getting everyone prepared. It’s just fun for me to see our system work and right now our guys are believing in it.”
Things looked bleak for the Bisons early in the nightcap as Butler scored three in the third to take the first lead, but that would be all the runs it would score.
The Bisons answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning after freshman speedster Michael Gigliotti led off the frame with a four-pitch walk. After reaching base on a fielder’s choice at second base, senior shortstop Grant Massey swiped his first bag of the season to get into scoring position.
Senior outfielder Jonathan Allison then tattooed a ball to deep left center for his first triple of the season as Massey came around to score and cut the Butler lead to 3-1.
Two innings later Lipscomb would put the game out of reach with a six-spot.
With one runner on, Massey hit a RBI-infield single to start the scoring. Allison reached base after getting hit by a pitch and then he and Massey successfully attempted a double steal to put runners at second and third for sophomore Hunter Hanks.
The third baseman smashed a double to the wall over the centerfielder’s head to plate both base runners. Tyson Ashcraft reached base after being hit in the foot. Freshman catcher Jeffrey Crisan then hit a two-RBI single followed by a bases-clearing two-RBI double down the right field line by senior second baseman Mike Korte to push the lead to 7-3.
The Bisons tacked on their final run in the seventh when Allison ripped a RBI-double to center field to complete a 3-for-3 night at the dish.
Junior Denton Norman (1-0) got the win on the hill after working five innings. He gave up three runs on five hits and three strikeouts.
Perhaps the highlight of the night was freshman hurler Jeffrey Passantino making his collegiate debut.
“I was really pumped because it is something I have been looking forward to my whole life” Passantino said. “I don’t have words for what I was feeling. Once the adrenaline gets going and all eyes are on you, it’s something I can’t describe.
“But I am humble and really thankful I got the opportunity, it’s a great feeling.“
The Florida native entered the game in the sixth and struck out the first four batters he faced, three were looking.
Passantino finished the night with six punch outs in four innings of work.
Nick Morton (0-1) took the loss for Butler after giving up seven runs on eight hits in five innings.
In game one Adam Lee led the way with a career-best four hits to down Butler 9-8.
The Bisons erased an early 2-0 deficit by scoring three times in the second inning.
Ashcraft started things with a walk. Josh Lee then reached on an error. Junior transfer Chucky Vazquez followed with an RBI-single up the middle in his first Lipscomb at-bat. Following a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over Adam Lee then added an RBI-single and Massey completed the scoring in the inning with a run-producing single.
The lead grew to 5-2 in the fourth inning when an error by Butler’s second baseman allowed Gigliotti and Adam Lee to score.
Lipscomb struck again two innings later when Adam Lee continue his torrid start to the season by turning on the first pitch he saw and blasting it on top of the batting cages well beyond the left field fence to stretch the lead to 6-2.
“Adam had a really good weekend,” Forehand said. “He had a big home run and that is always fun for him. These results are just a byproduct of his work and the time he puts into it. ”
The Bulldogs (0-3) and Bisons each added two runs in the eighth and entered the ninth inning with Lipscomb leading 8-4.
Butler’s bats came alive with three consecutive hits to start the inning. By the time the third out was made, BU scored four runs on four extra-base hits to tie it up at 8-8.
Ashcraft led off the home half of the inning with a single up the middle. After two walks and a groundout, Adam Lee got plunked with the bases loaded to walk in the winning run.
Senior southpaw Nick Andros got the start and gave up five hits and two runs in four innings of work. He struck out two and walked one. He did not factor into the decision.
Senior reliever Griffin Moore didn’t have his best stuff while working the final inning, but he did get the win (1-0). He gave up four runs on five hits.
Butler starter Chris Myjak worked seven frames and gave up six runs on 12 hits for the no decision. Kyle Allen took the loss (0-1) after giving up one run on one hit and two walks.
- The Bisons have now won four straight against the Bulldogs and improve to 4-2 in all-time series.
- The 26 runs scored this weekend are the most ever scored in a season-opening series in Lipscomb’s NCAA era.
- Allison, Gigliotti and Adam Lee all finished with six or more hits for the weekend.
- Allison went 7-for 10 with two doubles, a triple, two runs scored and five RBIs.
- Adam Lee was 6-for-10 with one home run, one double, four RBIs and six runs scored.
- Gigliotti went 7-for-12 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Four of his hits came on bunt singles.
- After finishing 2014 sixth in the nation with 56 double plays turned, the Bisons managed just one this weekend.
- Mike Korte drew a team-leading four walks in the series. He finished third last season in the A-Sun with 37.
The Bisons are scheduled to return to the diamond on Tuesday for a 3 p.m. tilt at Middle Tennessee.