NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Behind Brady Puckett’s fourth-career complete game and an offensive explosion at the plate, the Lipscomb baseball team salvaged its Atlantic Sun Conference series with a 9-1 win over the Jacksonville Dolphins Sunday at sun-soaked Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“We all think Jacksonville is as good as anybody we have in our league,” said Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand. “They have great pitching, they can hit the ball and they are very deep. We were able to get on Stockton there in the fourth and that propelled us to victory. Hated to lose the first two, but it sure was good to see they guys come out and compete for a victory today.”
The win improves Lipscomb to 19-17 overall and 3-3 in the A-Sun, while Jacksonville falls to 22-13 and 4-2.
Making his ninth start of the season, Puckett was in complete control from the very first pitch. He started the tilt, retiring the first 11 batters before issuing a four-pitch walk in the top of the fourth.
The 6-foot-8 righty out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee pitched the full 9.0 innings and allowed just one run on a season-low tying three hits. He struck out three and walked one while moving to 6-2 on the season.
“After losing the first two games of this weekend, we wanted to come out and knock them (JU) in the mouth real good and I thought that is exactly what we did in the fourth,” said Puckett. “I was locating my fastball really well today and I think that is what allowed me to have so much success.
“Also the defense behind me was spectacular today. Those guys really stepped up and made some plays to carry us. I was loving it.”
The Bison offense entered the finale having not scored a run since the sixth inning of Friday’s defeat, but by the time the fourth inning rolled around, they’d had enough.
The Purple and Gold brought 11 batters to the plate and scored six times on seven hits and a Dolphin error. The scoring outburst halted a 15-inning scoreless streak for the Bisons. All nine Lipscomb hitters picked up a base hit in the win, including two-hit performances from table setter Michael Gigliotti and freshman designated hitter Von Watson.
Lipscomb got things rolling when leadoff man Lee Solomon drew his league-leading 30th walk of the season. The A-Sun’s leading base stealer came all the way around from first to score when Adam Lee ripped a ball that hit just inside the bag at third and rolled into the left field corner. It was Lee's conference-leading 42 RBI of the campaign.
Zeke Dodson and Tevin Symonette followed with back-to-back singles, allowing Lee to plate on Symonette’s base knock to make it 2-0 Lipscomb.
Allan Hooker then doubled the score with a 2-RBI double to right center. Watson then laced the Bisons fifth consecutive base knock with a single through the left side, moving Hooker to third. On the play, Watson wisely advanced to second on the throw home, but when JU’s catcher Mike Cassala threw back attempting to gun Watson, the ball bounced into the outfield, allowing Hooker to come home and make it 5-0 Bisons.
Watson stole third before crossing the plate on a single to left from Gigliotti.
Senior backstop Chucky Vazquez homered for the second time this weekend with a mammoth 2-run shot in the sixth to extend the lead to 8-0. He then capped a 3-RBI day on a sacrifice fly to right field in the eighth, scoring Watson for his third run of the afternoon.
Jacksonville scored its lone run of the day in the ninth after Austin Hays reached on a fielding error, before coming around to score on a groundout from J.J. Gould.
Right hander Spencer Stockton took the loss for Jacksonville and falls to 4-3 on the year. He tossed just 3.2 frames, giving up six runs on seven hits. He did punch out five and walk two.
Around the Horn:
- The Bisons 11 hits mark the 15th time this season that Lipscomb has had 10 or more hits in a contest.
- Seven different players scored a run for Lipscomb.
- Puckett allowing just one run marked the fifth time in nine outing that he has held his opponent to two runs or less.
- His three hits allowed is the third time in his last five outings that Puckett has allowed three hits.
- Vazquez, who homered Friday to halt a 1-for-44 slump, smashed another Sunday to give him three on the year.
- With runners in scoring position, the Bisons were 5-of-8 (.625) while JU went 0-for-6.
- All three of JU’s hits were two-baggers.
- Watson hit his first career triple in the eighth with a fly ball to the wall in right center.
- Watson also swiped his fourth stolen base of the season, giving Lipscomb a league-leading 70 on the year.
The Bisons are back in action on Tuesday when they make the short trip up to Clarksville to face Austin Peay in the first of a home-and-home this season. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
“Every team we play is good. WE go and play a good, veteran team on the road at Austin Peay on Tuesday. Then we go to Kennesaw State who is playing as well as anyone in our league. We will have to be on our toes and not let up, those are wins that we need as move into the last month of the season.”