NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Hunter Hanks hit a solo home run and the Lipscomb baseball team fought back from a four-run deficit, but the rally fell short as the Bisons dropped a 4-3 decision to No. 2 Vanderbilt Tuesday night at Hawkins Field.
It marked the second year in a row the Bisons gave the Commodores all they could handle in a midweek battle. Lipscomb knocked off then No.1 Vanderbilt, 3-1, in 2015 thanks to a strong outing from Brady Puckett and three RBI from current volunteer assistant coach Josh Lee.
However, a repeat performance was not in order Tuesday. After going down 4-0 early, Lipscomb rallied for two runs in the sixth and tacked on another in the ninth. Freshman third baseman Zeke Dodson struck out swinging with second baseman Lee Solomon standing on third to end the game.
“Tonight I felt like we got out spirit back, our mojo back,” said Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand. “After losing three tough games over the weekend to a really good team, it was good to see us with more energy.
“We gave up one frame where Vandy scored four runs and then we fight back and put ourselves in position to tie or possibly win the game in the ninth. That was all I can ask for. You never like to lose, but tonight I felt we played a much better game than we have played in the last couple of weeks.”
Vanderbilt (24-5) jumped out to a 4-0 in the bottom of the third. Walker Grisanti singled and Tyler Campbell was hit by a pitch. Jeren Kendall drove home both when he launched a double over the head of left fielder Tevin Symonette. Bryan Reynolds singled in Kendall and scored one batter later thanks to a throwing error from Lipscomb’s senior first baseman Adam Lee.
Hanks put the Bisons (16-13) in the run column with a towering home run that hit the left field scoreboard in the sixth inning. Sophomore center fielder Michael Gigliotti was hit by a pitch and proceeded to steal second and third base. Solomon drove him in with an RBI groundout to cut Vanderbilt’s lead to 4-2.
“Hunter’s home run cracked the lid to where we knew we were about to score some runs,” Forehand said. “We did a good job in the ninth of getting on base and Tev’s ball had a chance to get through, but their shortstop made a great play to limit us.”
Lipscomb’s pitching staff managed to hold the Commodores to just four runs on six hits.
Freshman right hander Adam Stewart made the start on the mound for the Bisons, tossing three innings and giving up three earned runs while striking out one Vandy hitter.
Alex Dorso pitched 2.2 innings of scoreless relief before giving way to John Pryor, who tossed the final 2.1 innings. Pryor struck out four batters and allowed just one hit.
“Adam gave us a solid game before running into a little bit of trouble there in the fourth, but I thought he pitched well,” Forehand said. “Then our bullpen with Dorso and Pryor came in and did a fabulous job of changing the pace of the game and keeping Vanderbilt off balance.
“This is the type of game our bullpen has needed after struggling of late. Hopefully this will get them going as we head into conference play this weekend.”
Lipscomb tried to muster a rally in the top of the ninth. Gigliotti singled through the right side and Solomon drew his league-leading 27th walk. Both advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Lee. Gigliotti then scored on an RBI groundout by Symonette, but that would be all the Bisons could manage as Dodson went down swinging, leaving the game-tying run just 90 feet from home.
Around the Horn:
- Lipscomb now trails in the all-time series against the Dores 19-3.
- Gigliotti reached base with a walk in the fourth. He has now reached base in 82 of 87 career games.
- Vazquez threw out Bryan Reynolds in the first inning for his ninth caught stealing this season.
- Solomon, who leads Lipscomb in steals with 20, singled in the first inning but was caught stealing to end the frame, the sixth time he has been gunned down this season.
- Gigliotti’s two thefts give him 13 on the year, second most in the A-Sun.
- The Bisons drew just two free passes, well below their season average of 5.6 walks per game, after entering the contest with 161, the fifth most in the nation.
- After Hanks’ homer, the Bisons now have 19 round trippers this season. It was Hanks’ second dinger of the season and the fifth of his career.
- Hanks extended his team-leading on-base streak to 10 games, the longest such streak of his career.
- Adam Lee picked up his second error of the season after airmailing a throw to third in the fourth.
- The Bisons have committed an error in 22 straight games, and have at least one in 26-of-29 games this season. In 2015 the longest such streak committing an error was six.
- Lipscomb’s pitching staff has six strikeouts Tuesday. It has recorded at least six in 22 contests this season.
- The staff has surrendered a double in each of the last seven tilts.
Lipscomb will play host to USC Upstate this weekend to begin Atlantic Sun play. The series starts on Friday night at 6:00 p.m. at Dugan Field.
“You have to give Vanderbilt all the credit in the world, they are a very, very good team,” Forehand said. “But I am proud of our guys and the fight and how we came back to put ourselves in position to tie the game. I liked the adjustments our team made after last weekend and am looking forward to Friday.”