NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After dropping three games at Dallas Baptist over the weekend, the road does not get any easier for the Lipscomb baseball team.
Tuesday the Bisons must make their way up the road to Hawkins Field where they will take on the No. 3 Vanderbilt Commodores in a 6:30 p.m. contest.
Lipscomb will look to try and repeat 2015 when it marched into Hawkins and downed the top ranked Commodores, 3-1, behind the arm of Brady Puckett and the bat of now volunteer assistant coach Josh Lee.
However, if the season numbers stay true, that will be a tall task. The Bisons enter the game winless on the road, dropping all 10 this season, so they are due for a victory.
The last time Lipscomb lost its first 10 road games to begin a campaign was in 2004 and 2012; both of those team won the very next road tilt.
Freshman right hander Adam Stewart will get the privilege of trying to tame the potent Commodore offense. In his first three career starts, Stewart is 1-0 with a 9.24 ERA in 12.2 innings of work where he struck out 14, walked four and gave up 13 earned runs.
He will face off against Vandy freshman Patrick Raby. Raby is 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA in 22.2 innings. He is fifth on the squad with 29 strike outs and has only walked eight.
The Commodores enter the game 23-5 overall this season and 6-3 in Southeastern Conference play. They have won six of their last seven games, including a 3-game sweep of Missouri and a series win over No. 5 South Carolina.
Vandy is seventh in the nation with 235 runs scored on the year, averaging 8.4 tallies in each contest.
Sophomore outfielder Jeren Kendall has been the Commodore’s top hitter with a .336 average (38-113) with five home runs, 29 RBI and 32 runs scored. He is also the team’s top base stealer with 17 thefts in 22 attempts.
Junior outfielder Bryan Reynolds is the team’s top power hitter with six homers and 28 RBI to go along with a .298 batting clip (31-104).
Sophomore infielder Penn Murfee has started just 12 games but his .357 batting average (20-56) is tops on the team. He has 12 RBI, four doubles and seven runs scored.
Freshman Ethan Paul has been a nice welcome to an infield that had three starters taken in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft. The second baseman is raking .344 (22-64) with two home runs, 17 RBI, 19 runs scored and 17 walks. However, he does lead the team with seven errors.
As a team Vanderbilt is batting .291 with 20 homers, 151 walks and 49 stolen bases.
On the mound, the Commodores post a blistering 2.77 staff ERA in 257.0 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting a measly .211 against with 311 strikeouts to just 103 walks.
The staff leads the nation with 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, while their 6.9 hits allowed per game are the eighth fewest.
Friday night’s 4-0 loss to USC marked the first shutout at Hawkins Field for Vandy since 2013.
Lipscomb – RHP – Adam Stewart – (2-0, 6.63 ERA, 19.0 IP, 14 ER, 18 K, 7 BB)
Vanderbilt – RHP – Patrick Raby – (3-0, 1.99 ERA, 22.2 IP, 5 ER, 29 K, 8 BB)
Around the Horn:
- Lipscomb trails in the all-time series, 18-3, after splitting a pair of games with Vandy a season ago. After knocking off VU 3-1 in the 2015 regular season, the two teams met again in the opening game of the NCAA Regional last June. The ‘Dores won that meeting 9-1.
- The Bisons are 2-10 all-time at Hawkins Field.
- Big innings have been a large part of the success for the team in 2016 so far. Nine times this season the Bisons have posted five or more runs in a frame. Lipscomb has also scored four or more tallies in an inning 16 times so far.
- Drawing 161 free passes on the season, the Bisons rank fifth nationally, trailing only Mercer (183), Belmont (171), Murray State (168) and SEMO (163).
- The Bisons have been deadly on the base paths this season, ranking fifth in the country with 59 stolen bases.
- Lipscomb’s 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings are 27th best in the NCAA for pitching staffs.
- Lipscomb’s .393 on-base percentage is the 39th best team total in the nation.
- A couple of players rank among the nation’s leaders including sophomore second baseman Lee Solomon who is sixth in stolen bases (20), 10thin stolen bases per game (0.71) and 14th in walks (26). Solomon also ranks among A-Sun leaders in multiple categories: first in runs scored (31), stolen bases and walks, second in on-base percentage (.491), sixth in fielding assists (64) and 10th in batting average (.333).
- Senior first baseman Adam Lee is the nation’s 12th-best RBI man, knocking in 37 thus far on the year. He is also 17thin RBI per game (1.32) and 30th in walks (24). In the A-Sun Lee is third in on-base percentage (.483), fourth in stolen bases (10), seventh in runs scored (23), eighth in slugging (.552), ninth in doubles (7) and 10th in batting average (.333).
- Tevin Symonette ranks tied for fourth in the A-Sun with five home runs.
- Lee Solomon (20), Michael Gigliotti (11) and Adam Lee (10) are the top base-stealing trio in the A-Sun.
- Michael Gigliotti’ 29 runs scored are second most in the conference, trailing only Solomon.
- Gigliotti picked up two bunt singles in Friday’s game at DBU, giving him 12 on the season. He finished 2015 as the nation’s leader with 21.
- With a 1-0 shutout against Western Michigan on February 28, Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand picked up win No. 250 in a Bison uniform.
The Bisons open up Atlantic Sun Conference this weekend when USC Upstate invades Dugan Field for a three game series. The opener is set for 6 p.m. Friday night.