NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Sophomore Brady Puckett tossed seven scoreless innings and the Bisons managed just enough offense to give Jeff Forehand his 250th win as Lipscomb baseball head coach in Sunday's 1-0 shutout victory of Western Michigan in the final game of the Mule Mix Classic at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
Forehand, in his 10th season as the Bisons skipper, came to Lipscomb in 2007 and has set numerous milestones along the way.
He became the school’s all-time winningest coach in its D1 era in 2012 and picked up career win No. 450 last season, before winning No. 250 as head man of Lipscomb's storied program Sunday.
“It doesn’t seem like it is time for me to be winning No. 250 here at Lipscomb, it’s exciting,” Forehand said. “That’s a lot of wins, but I am already looking towards win No. 251.
“Going back 10 years that is a lot of players and numerous assistant coaches, it’s not just me. But I am thankful to all the help I have had along the way and I can’t wait to get back out here on Tuesday.”
He now has 461 career victories in 16 seasons as a collegiate coach.
The game produced a pitcher’s duel through the first five innings between Puckett and Western Michigan hurler Derek Schneider as each team managed just seven hits apiece.
Puckett was solid for the second week in a row. The 6-foot-8 righty only allowed five hits while striking out a career high seven batters and surrendering just one walk, his first of the season.
“We feel like we are going to get that from Brady with every outing,” Forehand said. “He pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out seven. That is a game later on in the year that we go ahead and let him finish it out, but with his pitch count climbing, we wanted to get him out of there so he could stay in shape for the upcoming games.
“We have grown to expect these type of outings from him. It was another really solid start.”
Lipscomb (5-2) finally broke through in the sixth inning as second baseman Lee Solomon led off the frame with a walk before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt from senior first baseman Adam Lee. Solomon stole third base and crossed the plate on an infield single by left fielder Von Watson to put the Bisons in front 1-0. That would be all the runs Lipscomb needed.
Western Michigan’s Schneider hung with Puckett until Watson’s RBI in the sixth. He surrendered one run in six innings of work while striking out four Lipscomb hitters and walking five.
It appeared the Bisons would add more runs in the seventh and eighth innings, but came up short on both occasions. Senior backstop Chucky Vazquez was hit by a pitch to start the seventh and pinch-hitter Andrew Knell walked to put things in motion, but both runners were left in scoring position.
In the eighth, Lee walked to lead off the stanza before an Allan Hooker single up the middle advanced him to third. Lee was tagged out at home while attempting to score on a wild pitch.
Dalton Curtis pitched a scoreless ninth inning and picked up his second save in as many days. Curtis now has a conference-leading three saves on the year and appears to be the closer for the Bisons going forward. He has a team-leading four appearances on the year.
“That’s kind of the plan right now for Dalton,” Forehand said. “He has given us soling performances now two days in a row and we really needed that.
“John (Pryor) came in the inning before and set him up for the save. That was a really solid performance out of the pen for both of those guys. They both did a great job, but I am looking forward to see what Curtis can do from here on out in the closing role.”
With the loss the Broncos are still left searching for their first win at 0-6.
Around the Horn:
- With six walks Sunday, the Bisons push their league-leading walk total to 37. The team’s 12 stolen bases are also tops in the Atlantic Sun.
- Lipscomb got its leadoff hitter on in 7-of-8 innings, all by-way of a base hit.
- Gigliotti extended his on-base streak to 39 games with his double in the first inning. He is also riding a five-game hit streak.
- Along with Gigliotti, Lee and Solomon have also reached base in all seven games this season.
- Solomon leads the A-Sun with nine walks. He drew two free passes on Sunday and raised his on-base percentage to .552.
- Solomon swiped his conference-leading fourth stolen base of the year in the win.
- The shutout was Lipscomb’s first since May 2, 2015 at Florida Gulf Coast.
- Puckett picked up his second win of the season and lowered his ERA to 1.29.
- Watson was 3-of-4 from the plate and also had the game’s lone RBI. He was the only Bison to record multiple hits.
- John Pryor tossed a scoreless eighth inning in relief of Puckett. It was his third appearance of the season.
Lipscomb will be back in action at Dugan Field on Tuesday for a mid-week tilt with Middle Tennessee. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.