NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Sunday was Brady Puckett's day, from his first pitch to his last.
The Bisons (12-8) have been careful this season with their pitching staff, doing what they can to save the arms until Atlantic Sun Conference play in April.
But with the 6-foot-8 right hander having thrown just 80 pitches entering the ninth, Puckett trotted back out and quickly finished off the Eastern Michigan Eagles, 4-1, Sunday afternoon at snowy Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
The win gave Lipscomb its third series win of the season.
Eastern Michigan (6-13) entered the finale having scored 25 runs on the weekend while the Bisons had combined for 16.
Puckett retired the first 12 batters of the game and 20 of the first 21. He held the Eagles offense to just three hits with no walks and five strikeouts in the third complete game of his career. The ace had not thrown more than 7.0 innings in a start this season.
"I can't say enough about Brady," said Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand. "He threw a complete game on only 90 pitches. Their (EMU) guy ran into a pitch there in the eighth, but he came right back and closed the door there.
"We expected Brady to bounce back after the game last Sunday at Georgia. He was really locating and making the batters miss. Another solid game from him today."
The game was scoreless heading into the eighth before the teams combined for all five runs in the frame.
EMU's catcher Jeremy Stidham, with a little help from the wind, touched Puckett for a solo home run on the second pitch of the inning to take a brief 1-0 lead. Puckett had only given up one hit through the first seven innings.
In the bottom of the eighth, junior shortstop Hunter Hanks pulled a ball into left field for a stand-up double to lead off the frame. Sophomore center fielder Michael Gigliotti, while squaring around to bunt, took a ball off his chest to put two men on. Sophomore second baseman Lee Solomon then worked EMU reliever Matthew Beaton for a four-pitch free pass to load the bases for Lipscomb's hottest hitter, first baseman Adam Lee.
Following an Eagles pitching change, Lee roped a laser that deflected off the third baseman's glove and rolled into the left field corner for a bases-clearing 3-RBI double to give the Bisons their first lead of the afternoon at 3-1.
"That was such a big hit by Adam," Forehand said. "It really broke the game open for us and gave us some spark offensively. He has really been swinging a hot stick lately and we hope it can continue."
Two batters later sophomore left fielder Tevin Symonette continued his welcome back party with an RBI-single to left field to close out the scoring for the day.
"It sure is great to have Tevin back in the lineup," Forehand said. "It was a scary situation a couple weeks ago when he got hit in the face and he is fortunate there wasn't any further damage. We are all glad to see Tev back."
Puckett improves to 4-1 on the season, while Beaton falls to 1-2 for EMU.
The Eagles' Tyler Butzin started the day on the bump and pitched a great game. The southpaw tossed seven complete frames and did not give up a run on three hits. He struck out five and walked four.
Around the Horn:
- Puckett faced just four batters above the minimum.
- Lipscomb leads the all-time series 2-1.
- The win gives Lipscomb its third series win of the season.
- The Bisons improve to 12-2 at Dugan Field.
- The three hits given up were a season low for the Purple and Gold.
- Sunday marked the third tilt that the Bisons did not issue a walk on the mound.
- Symonette recorded his first career triple in the second inning and extended his team-best hit streak to five games. It was the fourth triple of the season for Lipscomb.
- Solomon and Symonette were the only two Bisons to record multiple hits. They each had two.
- Solomon nabbed his seventh multi-hit game of the season.
- Lee put an exclamation mark on a 10-RBI week with his double. That gives him a team-leading seven multi-RBI games of the year. He is third in the A-Sun and two behind the RBI leader.
- Freshman Von Watson picked up his third career stolen base.
- The Bisons left six men stranded on base, while EMU left three.
- The game time Sunday was 2:03, officially making it the shortest game of the season for Lipscomb. The previous shortest tilt was a 2:04 game with Western Michigan on February 28.
- With seven walks, the Bisons have now recorded six or more free passes in 13 contests.
Lipscomb will travel up the road to E.S. Rose Park on Tuesday to take on rival Belmont in the first of two meetings this season. The game is set to get under way at 5 p.m.
"You look at this like it's any other game on the schedule," said Forehand. "But everyone knows it's our crosstown rival. I hope this is one everybody can get excited about and have a good game on Tuesday."