EMERSON, Ga. – The Lipscomb baseball team entered the ninth inning tied with Tennessee Friday evening, but costly mistakes vaulted the Volunteers to a 6-0 win on a snow-covered Perfect Game South Field at the Lake Point Sporting Complex.
Through the first eight innings neither team could get on the scoreboard.
Lipscomb (3-1) had its best chance to plate some runs in the home half of the eighth when Adam Lee and Michael Gigliotti stood on second and third with two outs. Senior Grant Massey tried to find a way to score a run but eventually struck out on eight pitches after the Vols made a pitching change before the at-bat.
In the top of the ninth and seemingly with things starting to lean the Bisons’ way, it all went south in a hurry. Before the first out was recorded the Bisons plunked the leadoff man, allowed a passed ball, recorded a throwing error, and gave up three singles and two runs.
“Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for us in that last inning,” Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand said. “We couldn’t seem to slow it down once things started going bad.
“But that is what college baseball is all about. A lot of games are won and lost in the last inning because usually the first team to crack loses the game. My only hope is that we can learn from what happened tonight.”
Once first blood was drawn, it was hard to stop the leak as Tennessee (2-2) scored six runs on six hits in the final frame.
Pitching was the name of the game for most of the night as Lipscomb’s Ian Martinez-McGraw continued his great start to the season. The knuckleballer worked six scoreless innings and gave up seven hits. He also had four strikeouts.
“We have come to expect that type of performance from Ian,” Forehand said. “We know exactly what we are getting every Friday night when we take the field.”
The Pueblo, Colorado native has now thrown 13 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to his last outing in 2014.
Senior southpaw Jason Ziegler looked sharp through two innings before being pulled with no outs in the ninth inning after hitting a batter and recording a balk. Ziegler struck out three batters while giving up just one hit and one run. He was credited with the loss and drops to 0-1 on the year.
But for everything good Lipscomb did, Tennessee matched it pitch-for-pitch.
Starter Bret Marks looked sharp tossing four frames with five punch outs before being pulled without allowing a hit. Drake Owenby took over in relief and worked 3.2 innings while only allowing one hit with six strikeouts.
Senior shortstop Grant Massey came up with the lone hit of the night for the Purple and Gold with a single up the middle in the sixth.
“Bottom line is we have to swing the bats,” Forehand said. “The thing that is so encouraging about tonight is, even though we didn’t hit the ball well, we were still tied and had a chance to win it late.
“But everyone knows that if we can get the kind of pitching performance we got tonight, we are going to be in good shape and win a lot of games.”
Senior Griffin Moore entered the game in the ninth and gave up three earned runs on six hits in two-thirds of an inning pitched.
Andrew Lee improved to 1-0 for the Vols. He tossed 1.1 frames with one strike out. He did not allow a hit.
- With the win Tennessee improves to 9-1 all-time against Lipscomb.
- It is the first time the Bisons have been shutout since a 15-0 loss at North Florida May 9th in 2014.
- With the lone hit on the night Massey extends his team-leading hitting streak to 13 games – dating back to last season.
- Martinez-McGraw has now thrown 12 innings this season. He has allowed nine hits and has not given up an earned run. He has six strikeouts and four walks.
- After turning just one double play through the first three games last weekend, the Bisons turned two on Friday.
In just four short days these two teams will meet again when Lipscomb is set to travel to Knoxville to face the Vols on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. CT.
“We know what kind of team they (Tennessee) are,” Forehand. “They have great pitching and are very poised. Having played them tonight gives a good visual of what we have to do in order to come out with a win over there on Tuesday.”