NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Lipscomb continued its hot hitting on Saturday to defeat the Army West Point Black Knights 8-6 in the Mule Mix Classic at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium. The Bisons pounded out 15 hits and sophomore right hander Jeffrey Passantino picked up his second victory of the season.
“This was another solid win for our group,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “Our offense is really starting to come along. We are playing a little bit differently than we have in the past as we are trying to free up some guys to swing the bat more. Hopefully there is more to come from and more opportunity for these guys to excel every inning.”
The first-ever meeting between the two schools produced quite a display of offense with 30 hits and 14 runs combined. Von Watson and Tevin Symonette each had three hits apiece.
Passantino was the first of six pitchers to appear for Lipscomb. He pitched 5.2 innings, surrendering nine hits while striking out seven hitters and only allowing one earned run.
“I can’t say enough about Jeffrey, he comes out and gives us a consistent start every time,” Forehand said. “He started a little slow in the first inning, but he really looked sharp as the game progressed.”
In the sophomore’s last three starts at Dugan Field, Passantino has combined to throw 20.2 innings while surrendering just two earned runs on 17 hits. Over that span he has struck out 21 batters without allowing a single walk.
Army (2-4) jumped out to an early lead in the first when Matt Hudgins drove in Justin Reece with a sacrifice fly.
The lead did not last long for the Black Knights as Lipscomb’s senior first baseman Adam Lee alertly stole home when time was not called on the field. Lee, who reached on a throwing error, slid in safely without a throw to knot the game at 1-1.
Lee came through again an inning later when he ripped a double down the left field line to score Andrew Knell and Lee Solomon. That base knock extended his hitting streak to a team-high five games and gave Lipscomb a 3-1 lead.
Army’s John McCarthy stole second on an errant throw from catcher Jeffrey Crisan, allowing Reece to cross the plate and cut Lipscomb’s lead to 3-2 in the top of the third.
The Bisons plated another run in the bottom of the third when Symonette and Crisan produced back to back singles. A throwing error by Army right fielder Greg Carter allowed Symonette to score. Michael Gigliotti singled in Crisan and he came around to score on a single by Solomon. The three-run third inning extended Lipscomb’s lead to 6-2.
Army began to mount a comeback in the top of the sixth. Run scoring singles by Hudgins, John McCarthy, and Ryan Levenhagen helped four runs cross the plate for the Black Knights, cutting Lipscomb’s lead to 7-6.
Lipscomb freshman Zeke Dodson added some insurance with an RBI on a fielder’s choice to make the score 8-6 in the bottom of the sixth.
David Monge kept Army’s hopes alive by leading off the ninth with a double to right field. However, Dalton Curtis struck out the final two Army hitters to close out the win and pick up his second save of the season. Curtis pitched the final 1.2 innings and struck out four hitters.
Zach Shirey, Dallas Gibson, Alex Dorso, and Jamie Young all appeared in relief for Lipscomb. Shirey was the only reliever to surrender an earned run.
Around the Horn:
- With the win head coach Jeff Forehand is now just one win shy of reaching No. 250 in a Lipscomb uniform. He has 460 career victories in his 16 seasons as a collegiate skipper.
- Lipscomb’s 15 hits was its highest output of the season. The Bisons had 13 base knocks against Miami-Ohio on Friday.
- Andrew Knell made his first college appearance and started at shortstop. He went 0-3 and scored a run.
- Gigliotti extended his on-base streak to 38 games when he singled in the second inning.
- Solomon, Gigliotti and Lee have each reached base in all six games this season.
- Lee drove in two runs on Saturday. He currently leads the team with nine RBI and three multiple-RBI games.
- Eight of the nine Lipscomb starters recorded a base hit. Five Bisons had multi-hit performances.
- Gigliotti closed the game with a 2-for-4 day at the plate, giving him a team-leading fourth multiple-hit performance of the season. He successfully dropped down his fourth bunt single of the season.
- Crisan caught two runners attempting to steal third.
- Watson doubled down the right field line to score Lee in the bottom of the fourth.
Lipscomb will wrap up the 2016 Mule Mix Classic with a matchup against the Western Michigan Broncos. Brady Puckett (1-0, 2.57 ERA) will make his second start of the season for the Bisons, while Derek Schneider (0-1, 7.36 ERA) will toe the hill for the Broncos. First pitch is scheduled for noon at Ken Dugan Field.
“Luckily we have Brady going tomorrow and I am sure we will get another quality start from him,” said Forehand. “If we can keep our bats going and we also get a normal game from Brady we should be in excellent shape tomorrow.”