MOBILE, Ala. – The Lipscomb baseball team entered the seventh inning with a one-run lead, but could not hang on as Alabama scored five times in the frame to take the series opener 5-1 Friday night under the light of Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.
“The thing I like about tonight is that our team really fought to get a win,” Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand said. “We out hit them, we left seven runners on base and twice we had a guy at third base and came up empty. It was just one of those games where we gave them some freebies in the seventh and Alabama capitalized on them.
“I am disappointed in the outcome, but it’s like I told the team, I am also excited because I feel like we are playing at the same caliber as some of the better teams in the country.”
The Bisons (7-3) grabbed all of the momentum in the top of the first after freshman Michael Gigliotti dropped down a bunt and used his speed to beat the throw for a leadoff single. Gigliotti moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Grant Massey and then took third on a wild pitch. With the infield playing in, senior Jonathan Allison sliced a single through the left side to plate Gigliotti and take a 1-0 lead.
Lipscomb starter Ian Martinez-McGraw looked sharp early on but ran into some trouble in the second. He walked the first two hitters before eventually loading the bases after plunking a batter. But the senior showed perseverance by getting three swinging strikeouts to get out of the frame unscathed.
Martinez-McGraw (2-1) worked in and out of trouble most of the night, but only allowed one earned run on one hit in six innings pitched as he took his first loss of the season. He tossed 117 pitches and struck out a season high six batters, but also issued a season high six walks.
With his pitch count haivng already reached a season high, Forehand decided to run Martinez-McGraw back out to begin the bottom of the seventh knowing hitters 7-9 were due up. It was a trio he owned all night.
“We were fighting traffic most of the night, but Ian was able to bail himself out of some jams in the first six innings,” Forehand said. “But the seventh inning was our undoing. It was disappointing because we had a good plan on how we were going to attack that inning, but unfortunately we had a couple of walks and an error that really put us behind the eight ball.”
Martinez-McGraw issued a leadoff walk and then mishandled a bunt when trying to bare hand the ball in order to make a play at first. He then hit the next batter to load the bases with no outs, ending his night.
Senior lefty Jason Ziegler came on in relief and walked the first batter he faced to allow Bama to tie the game at 1-1. A RBI-sacrifice fly to right field, a single to center and a throwing error on an attempted steal would allow the Tide to cross the plate four more times to put the game out of reach.
Alabama’s Taylor Guilbeau (2-1) recorded the win after working into the ninth before running into trouble of his own.
Down to its final three outs, Lipscomb tried to rall in the ninth when Hunter Hanks smacked a leadoff single to left and Jeffrey Crisan drew a walk to get two men on with no outs. The Tide decided to go to the pen for Thomas Burrows. The sophomore struck out the next three batters to end the Purple and Gold's rally and record his first save of the season.
In eight frames Guilbeau surrendered one run on six hits. He struck out six and walked three.
With the win Alabama improved to 8-5, snapping its three-game losing streak.
- Lipscomb outhit Alabama 6-3 on the night. It was the fewest hits of the season for both teams and Bama's first win of the year when being outhit.
- The seven walks issued Friday by the Bisons were a season high.
- Allison led the Bisons offensively going 2-for-3, his fourth multi-hit game this season. He recorded the lone RBI and also drew his team-leading 11th walk of the season.
- Gigliotti recorded his sixth bunt single of the season in 11 attempts.
- Josh Lee had the lone extra-base of the game, his fourth of the season.
- The Bisons have an extra-base hit in all but one game this season, including each of the last six games. Friday marked the first contest of the year Alabama did not record an extra-base knock.
- Crisan threw out his team-leading fifth attempted base stealer of his freshman campaign.
- Hunter Hanks swiped his second-career stolen base in the fourth inning.
- Martinez-McGraw’s still leads the conference with a 0.78 ERA.
- Kyle Weller pitched the ninth. He gave up one hit and also recorded a punch out.
- The Bisons allowed a season high three stolen bases. All coming from Casey Hughston.
- Former Crimson Tide signal caller and three-time BCS National Champion A.J. McCarron was honored before the game as he threw out the inagural first pitch.
The Bisons will try and even the series with Alabama on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. The series finale is slated for 2:05 Sunday. Nick Andros will get the nod on Saturday. The senior is still searching for his first decision of the year. He carries a 5.19 ERA into the contest in 8.2 innings logged.
“Our team recognizes that we have to clean up some of our mistakes,” Forehand said. “We just have to get back at it tomorrow and come out ready to play. This is two Southeastern Conference teams we have played with late into the game, so our guys know they can do it. We are not intimidated by the opponent, but we have to come out tomorrow expecting a win.”