NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Lipscomb baseball team escaped an early hole in a hurry, rounding the bases repeatedly in a 10-run sixth inning and scoring 14 unanswered runs as they celebrated a wild 22-12 victory over Atlantic Sun newcomer NJIT Saturday afternoon at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“I don’t think I can find the words to explain this one,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “I always come into the games expecting for our offense to do this every time. Today they were getting good at-bats and hitting the ball on the nose.
“Hopefully the success we had this weekend will get our team going the rest of the season.”
The Bisons set a school single game record with their 22 runs in the rout, breaking the previous high of 20 against Middle Tennessee on March 31, 2010.
Freshmen Cade Sorrells and Von Watson each homered in the come from behind win. Sorrells picked up career highs in RBI (4) and runs scored (3) along with a grand slam that got the Bisons offense rolling in the fourth. Watson, who finished with two hits, two runs and two RBI, capped the scoring in the wild sixth frame with his two-run blast.
“Cade’s grand slam really turned the tables because NJIT had control of the game,” Forehand said. “They were up 10-3, but his homer put us within striking distance and then our team felt like they could come back to get this game.”
Adam Lee, Allan Hooker, Zeke Dodson and Tevin Symonette all picked up three RBI in the offensive explosion.
Lee finished 2-for-4 at the dish and scored a career high four runs. He also added to his school record walks total with two free passes. Hooker collected three hits in six at-bats, including his team-leading 14th double of the season and his third of the series.
Dodson, after finishing the second game of Friday’s double header with a 5-for-5 performance at the plate, continued his torrid pace by starting the finale with three hits in his first three at-bats. He wound up going 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored.
Symonette collected two hits on the day, including one of the six Bison doubles.
After NJIT (16-26, 2-9 A-Sun) took a 4-0 lead after the first two frames, Lipscomb (23-21, 7-5 A-Sun) rallied for three runs in the bottom of the third inning to cut the deficit to 4-3.
Freshman righty Kyle Kemp allowed four runs on seven hits before being lifted after three innings of work in his first career start on the mound. Adam Stewart and John Pryor entered on relief in the fourth stanza. The duo struggled to find the strike zone, combining for five walks, two wild pitches and a hit batter.
Following a leadoff walk, Stewart picked up two quick outs. He then hit a batter before walking the next three to allow NJIT to score twice. Pryor then relieved Stewart and quickly followed suit with a bases-loaded walk to the first batter he saw. NJIT then picked up back-to-back singles to cap a 6-run frame and take a 10-3 lead over Lipscomb.
The Bisons offense responded with a 5-run rally of its own in the home half of the frame, highlighted by Sorrells’ slam, to cut the Highlanders’ lead to 10-8.
“We always have a game plan,” Sorrells said. “We have been down plenty of times this season, but every time we know we have to stick to our approach and always be aggressive.
“I knew going into my at-bat that it was going to have to my pitch before swinging. After I took the first one, they (NJIT) came back and threw a ball inside on me I ended up getting a good swing off of it. Our team needed to get some runs there and I was glad to be able to put them on the board.”
After using four hits to score three times in the fifth inning and draw the game even at 11-11, Lipscomb put the game out of reach with its 10-run sixth.
Hooker was the spark plug Lipscomb needed as he opened the frame with a single on the first pitch he saw. After Watson and Chucky Vazquez reached base, Hunter Hanks ripped a RBI-single to right field.
Adam Lee then began a string of five straight run-producing hits for Lipscomb without recording an out, as he smacked a 2-RBI single to left. Dodson followed with a single up the middle. Symonette laced a double down the left field line, before Hooker picked up his second hit of the inning on a single to center.
The explosion was then capped with Watson’s 2-run blast, his second home run of the season, to give the Bisons room to breathe with a 21-11 lead.
Symonette tacked on the final run of the afternoon for the Bisons with a single to left center in the bottom of the seventh.
Senior righty Kyle Weller picked up the win after tossing the final five stanzas. He allowed just one earned run on four hits with four strikeouts and three walks.
“Kyle is veteran and has been around the block a few times,” Forehand said. “That is something we have to get more often from our bullpen going forward. They struggled there in the fourth inning giving up six runs, but then Weller was able to come in and shut it down.”
Junior shortstop Hunter Hanks continued his monster weekend Saturday with his second 3-hit game of the weekend while scoring a career high four runs. He drove in two more runs in the win to give him six against the Highlanders.
Around the Horn:
- Lipscomb now leads the all-time series with NJIT 3-0.
- The Bisons scored 45 runs on 58 hits in three games against the Highlanders.
- Lipscomb scored double-digit runs in three straight games for the third time this season. It has also achieved the feat in four of the last five.
- Dodson finished the week with three multi-hit games, leading to an 11-for-17 week at the dish where he drove in seven runs and scored four.
- Three players finished the weekend with six-plus RBI. Dodson and Symonette each collected seven, while Adam Lee had six.
- Adam Lee brought his A-Sun-leading RBI total to 51 on the year. He also swiped his 17th base of the season, the second most in the conference.
- Hooker stole his 10th base of the season, giving Lipscomb four players with double-digit steals on the year.
- Hanks extended his career best hitting streak to seven games in the win.
- Hooker reached base for a team-best 12th straight game. He is one of nine players who have reached in at least five straight games.
- With two hits Saturday, Symonette picked up his 13th multiple-hit game of the season, tying him with Lee Solomon for most on the squad.
- Adam Lee now has a team best 13 multi-RBI games on the year.
- With 22 hits, the Bisons now have double-digit hits in five straight contests.
- The six doubles by Lipscomb matched a season high for the Bisons. They also had six last Sunday at Kennesaw State.
The Bisons get a break from midweek action this next week. Their next game will be on Friday May 6 against North Florida in Jacksonville. Lipscomb and UNF will meet in a three-game A-Sun series at Harmon Stadium. The opener is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, and noon starts on Saturday and Sunday.
“We have had some battle with North Florida,” Forehand said. “It is always a tough place to play when you go down there, especially against a team that is coaches as well as they are. They have a good offense and brought back a lot of arms on the mound.
“Every conference series in the Atlantic Sun is tough, so we are thankful we were able to get out of this one with three wins. But we are looking forward to getting going again next weekend.”