NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It has been almost two years since Jaesung Hwang recorded his last win on the mound, but his performance on Tuesday would have fans believe he never lost his touch.
The redshirt junior dealt all night long, tying his career-high with seven strikeouts to carry the Lipscomb baseball team in a 7-1 win over Tennessee Tech on a rain-soaked Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“We have been anxiously awaiting for J to get back to where he was two years ago, and tonight showed what kind of pitcher he is for us,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “He threw seven great innings. When he gets locked in like he was tonight, I think he becomes an inspiration to all of the team. He will drive the game and take care of his part.”
Other than giving up a solo shot in the second, Hwang was brilliant in his second start of the season and improved to 1-0 on the year. He gave up one run on four hits in seven innings and faced just two batters above the minimum. The Georgia native did not allow a walk and sat the Golden Eagles down in order six times.
“We were excited to get back out here after the weekend we had against La Salle,” Forehand said. “Our team is playing with confidence right now from top to bottom. Tonight, some of our younger guys stepped up and it was fun to watch.
Freshman speedster Michael Gigliotti was one of those guys. Gigliotti led the Bisons offensively with perhaps the best game of his young career. He went 3-for-4 at the plate and scored a career high three runs, while also knocking in a career high-tying three RBI.
“Gig is a guy that really changes the game for us, because of so many things he can do” Forehand said. “He is a difference maker and it’s going to be fun to watch him and see what happens next.”
Tech (5-5) took an early lead in the second when designated hitter Ryan Flick faced a full count and blasted a leadoff home run to right.
In the bottom of the third with one out, Gigliotti reached first on a bunt single down the third base line. Two batters later senior left fielder Jonathan Allison roped a ball into right field for his fourth double of the season to bring home Gigliotti and knot the game at 1-1.
Two innings later in the fifth, the Bisons (7-2) quickly got in business after loading the bases with no outs on back-to-back singles from Gigliotti and senior shortstop Grant Massey, followed by an Allison walk. Freshman catcher Jeffrey Crisan tacked on a run with a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Gigliotti and give Lipscomb a 2-1 lead.
In the sixth frame Gigliotti added a run for the Bisons on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. Freshman designated hitter Tyler Brown, who reached after being hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, came around to score on the play.
Tech had its best chance of the day to score in the eighth when the first two batters reached base and advanced into scoring position after a sac bunt by pinch hitter Anthony El Chibani. Lipscomb's freshman reliever Jeffrey Passantino struck out the next batter then induced a groundball out to end the threat and get out of the inning unscathed.
With rain pouring down in the home half of the eighth, the 'good' Purple and Gold cushioned its lead by hanging a four-spot. Gigliotti roped a laser just out of the reach of Tech’s diving first baseman and legged out a 2-RBI double, his first career two-bagger. Massey and Hanks then followed with RBI-singles to put the game out of reach.
Passantino recorded his first career save after working two frames for Lipscomb. He gave up one hit while striking out two and walking one.
Tennessee Tech went with a staff day Tuesday. In his first appearance of the season, Jacob Honea got the start and worked just two innings while giving up one hit. He did not factor into the decision.
Kyle Keatts (0-1) took the loss for the Golden Eagles after coming on in relief in the fourth and giving up one run on three hits in two innings pitched. He struck out two and walked one.
Lipscomb got the production it needed from the top of the lineup, as hitters 1-6 combined for 10 hits, seven RBI, four runs and four walks.
“That is exactly what they are supposed to do,” Forehand said. “It is hard to get a base hit and it just shows the hard work, time and effort these guys put into this. When they are getting on base and doing the things they did tonight, we are a good ball club and are tough to beat.”
- Tuesday’s game was the 21st meeting between the two schools. Tech leads the series 14-7.
- Massey extended his hitting streak to 18 games and has now reached base safely in 24-straight.
- With a bunt single in the third, Gigliotti now has five bunt singles in nine attempts.
- Gigliotti recorded his fourth game of the season with at least three hits and now has seven RBI in his last three games.
- In Hooker’s eight hits this season, six have gone for extra base hits.
- Allison is now tied with Hanks for the team lead with four doubles.
- The one run allowed is a season low by the Bisons.
- With 11 hits Tuesday, Lipscomb now has recorded double-digit hits in six games this year.
- The Bisons have scored 7-plus runs in all seven wins and improved to 7-1 at home.
The Bisons head south for their first road series of the season this weekend in Mobile, Alabama to take on Southeastern Conference foe, the University of Alabama. The weekend series will be played at Hank Aaron Stadium, the home of the Double-A Mobile BayBears, due to the renovation and expansion of Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Friday’s first pitch is set for 7 p.m. CT.
“Every team we have played so far has been really good,” Forehand said. “The only reason Alabama is any different is because everyone knows who they are. For our team, we just have to keep doing more of the same, no matter who the opponent is.
“We are looking forward to playing a really good team, a team from the SEC that everyone knows. They are a team that is consistently in the Top 25, so it will be a test for our guys and everyone is looking forward to it.”