NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Despite an impressive performance from sophomore second baseman Lee Solomon at the plate, the Lipscomb baseball team dropped its 2016 season opener to Eastern Kentucky 13-7 Friday night at Ken Dugan Field.
“It goes without saying that we are obviously disappointed with the loss, but I think we have a chance to be really dynamic offensively.” Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand said. “Tonight we were just outplayed with the two-out hits and two-out runs by Eastern Kentucky. It’s hard to win games when you give up double-digit runs.
“We just have to make the corrections. I hate to learn lessons with losses because I would much rather learn the lessons in wins, but they played much better than we did tonight. You have to tip your cap.”
Making his first career start, Solomon went 3-for-3 at the dish with three RBI, two runs and a stolen base.
“Lee brings a lot to the table with what he can do with his speed and we are really excited about that part of our offense,” Forehand said. “He had a great first start and we can’t wait to see what’s next for him. I am really proud for him, that’s for sure.”
The Colonels (1-0) took the early advantage in the top of the first with three runs on three hits, highlighted by a two-run home run from center fielder Shea Sullivan. EKU pushed its lead to 4-0 in the top of the second when catcher Logan Starnes came around to score on a groundout to short.
Lipscomb (0-1) finally got things rolling in the bottom of the fourth frame when All-American sophomore center fielder Michael Gigliotti ripped a leadoff triple to right field to extend his on-base streak to 33 games dating back to last season. Solomon followed suit with his first career triple after punching the ball off the wall in left center to plate Gigliotti and cut EKU’s lead to 4-1.
Redshirt senior first baseman Adam Lee knocked in Solomon with a fielder’s choice to third base. He would then come around to score on a wild pitch to make it a 4-3 ball game in EKU’s favor.
In the bottom of the fifth Gigliotti doubled down the right field line and eventually knotted things up 4-4 after scoring on a ground out from Lee.
After each team scored a run in the seventh frame to make it 5-5, the Colonels exploded for eight runs in the final two innings that was capped with a two-out grand slam from left fielder Kyle Nowlin in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
Solomon knocked in the final two runs for Lipscomb in the eight with a double into right field.
Seeing his first collegiate action in nearly two years, LSU transfer and redshirt senior, Cody Glenn drew the nod on the mound for the Bisons. The southpaw tossed 3.2 innings and gave up four runs on five hits with two walks and one strikeout in his Lipscomb debut.
“I am sure Cody had some butterflies after not throwing for 20 months, but when he left the game we were still in striking distance,” Forehand said. “Although I am sure he would tell you he didn’t throw as good as he would have liked, I didn’t think Cody did a bad job at all for us tonight.
“He knows what he needs to do in his next outing and I am sure he will do that.”
Redshirt junior John Pryor entered the game in relief in the fourth and looked sharp striking out six batters before running into some trouble in the seventh. He surrendered three runs on three hits and was credited with the loss. His six punch outs were the most since striking out a career high 10 on March 5, 2014 against Western Kentucky. It was the third most of his career.
EKU’s Eric Nerl pitched four complete frames in the start, giving up three runs on three hits. Caleb Johnson got the win after pitching 1.2 innings of relief.
Around the Horn:
- EKU came through in the cluth all game long, capitalizing with 11 two-out RBI.
- The win gives EKU a slight 2-1 edge in the all-time series with Lipscomb.
- Lipscomb was 1-for-10 at the plate with two outs (.100) while the Colonels were 7-of-17 (.421).
- Four Bisons (Von Watson, Tevin Symonette, Cade Sorrells, Zeke Dodson) made collegiate debut's Friday, combining to go 0-for-9 with four strikeouts.
- Redshirt sophomore Allan Hooker had a solid season opener going 2-for-4 with a RBI and a walk. He now has 13 career multi-hit games.
- Solomon recorded his first career RBI with his triple in the fourth.
- Gigliotti finished the night 2-of-5 with two runs, a double and a triple. It marked the 21st multiple-hit game of his career.
- Junior transfer Dallas Gibson made his Lipscomb debut, tossing 1.2 innings. He gave up four runs on two hits with two walks and a punch out.
- Sophomore third baseman Tyler Brown made his first career start in the season opener after seeing action in 15 games as a freshman in 2015.
- Senior backstop Chucky Vazquez was the only other player to record a hit in the game with a single to right in the sixth.
- EKU’s Nowlin tallied just one hit, but finished with a game-high six RBI.
The Bisons return for game two in the three-game set at 2 p.m. Saturday. Sophomore Jeffrey Passantino is scheduled to make the start on the mound.