NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Home runs by Tevin Symonette and Michael Gigliotti coupled with a quality start from Brady Puckett highlighted Lipscomb’s 10-3 victory over Alabama A&M Sunday afternoon at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
"From a coaching standpoint, we could have done more offensively, we left eight runners on base," Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand said. "But that's just the coaching coming out in me. I thought we played a good game. We stole eight bags, hit two home runs and I thought our short game really challenged Alabama A&M."
Puckett continued his stellar season with another solid showing. The 6-foot-8 righty scattered five hits across seven innings of work and allowed just two earned runs. The Riverdale High School graduate struck out a career best eight Bulldog batters and did not allow any free passes.
"Brady ran into a little trouble there in the fourth, he left some pitches up and they (AAMU) got a couple of knocks," Forehand said. "He gave us seven strong innings. We will get that every Sunday. What else can I say?"
The Bisons showed an impressive combination of offensive and defensive prowess by pounding out 13 hits and 10 runs while only allowing six hits and three runs. Lipscomb used its speed to steal a season-high eight bases, bringing its Atlantic Sun leading total to 29.
Lipscomb (9-3) jumped on the Bulldogs from the outset. Gigliotti reached on a bunt single and scored on an RBI hit by Lee Solomon. Solomon crossed the plate on a wild pitch later in the frame.
The Bisons benefited from three wild pitches by Bulldog starter Josh Burchell in the third inning. Chucky Vazquez and Hunter Hanks each drew a walk and scored on wild pitches.
Symonette hit his second home run in as many games in the bottom of the third. The solo blast hit the roof of the batting cages beyond the left field wall.
The Bulldogs offense broke through with two runs in the top of the fourth. A passed ball allowed J.T. O’Reel to score and Tanner Ivey sent an RBI single to right center to drive in Nolan Ramsey.
Adam Lee tacked on an RBI in the bottom of the fourth with a sacrifice fly to score Gigliotti. That gave Lipscomb a 6-2 advantage.
Alabama A&M (2-11) did not back down. Ramsey drilled a double to right center to plate Pierre Brewton, cutting Lipscomb’s lead to 6-3.
Lipscomb added some insurance tallies in each of the final three frames. Gigliotti led off the home half of the sixth with a solo home run over the right field fence. Von Watson drove Solomon home with a sacrifice fly to put the Bisons on top 8-3.
Hooker led off the seventh with a walk and Vazquez singled to put runners on the corners. Tyler Brown singled in Hooker for his first RBI of the season. In the eighth, Von Watson grounded into a double play, but Solomon was able to cross the plate to put Lipscomb up 10-3.
"I like where our offense is at right now," said Forehand. "We have to get more production from the bottom of our lineup, but they are going to come around."
Redshirt freshman Kyle Kemp made his long anticipated collegiate debut Sunday when he relieved Puckett and pitched a scoreless eighth.
"Always good to see Kyle Kemp get back out there," Forehand said. "We've kind of been slow playing his return just so we can make sure he is healthy enough to come back. We all look forward to seeing what he can give us the rest of the season."
The right hander out of Port Charlotte, Florida hit the first batter he faced, but came back to sit the next three guys down in order, including a swinging strikeout to the cleanup hitter.
"It's been a long time coming," Kemp said. "Thirty-six months, I can't describe how it feels to get back out there. It's been a lot of hard work on the field and in the training room. I have had to have a lot of patience.
"I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous during that first pitch, but I was more amped than anything."
After signing with Lipscomb in November of 2013 as a PerfectGame Underclass First Team All-American, Kemp had to sit out all of last season with an arm injury.
Freshman right hander Cole White also made his debut. The Canadian recorded one out in the ninth. Dalton Curtis relieved White and struck out both batters he faced to end the game.
Around the Horn:
- The Bisons improve to 4-1 all-time against the Bulldogs.
- With the win Lipscomb got its second weekend series sweep in a row and has won seven of its last eight contests.
- Solomon tied his career highs in runs and hits with three apiece. He finished 3-of-4 at the plate, scored three runs and picked up his league-leading 12th walk of the season.
- Gigliotti extended his on-base streak to 44 games with a single in the first inning. He went 2-of-4 with 3 runs scored and a solo home run. The homer was his first of the season.
- Four Bisons had multi-hit days. Along with Solomon, Vazquez also had three base knocks, tying his career high.
- Puckett improved to 3-0 and now has an ERA of 1.71. He has 20 punch outs in 21 innings of work while only allowing one walk.
- Solomon stole four bags while Gigliotti stole two. Gigliotti and Solomon are tied for the lead in the Atlantic Sun with eight stolen bases each. Hooker is in third with six.
Lipscomb will head east on I-40 to visit the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles on Tuesday afternoon. Game time is set for 3 p.m. at Bush Stadium in Cookeville.
"We haven't played that great on the road yet," Forehand said. "Anytime we go to Tech, it's always going to be tough. They have a good team."