JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a nearly identical game as Saturday, the Lipscomb baseball team took an early lead against North Florida, but the Ospreys chipped away late and staved off a late Lipscomb rally to escape with a 6-5 victory over the Bisons in the rubber match of an Atlantic Sun Conference series at Harmon Stadium on Sunday.
Just like they did in each of the first two games of the series, the Bisons jumped on the Ospreys in the opening frame for four runs.
Lipscomb (24-23, 8-7 A-Sun) used singles from each of its first five batters, including RBI base knocks from Zeke Dodson and Cade Sorrells. Following a strikeout from Von Watson, senior catcher Chucky Vazquez roped a single into left field allowing Dodson to score from third to make it 3-0.
That was all UNF skipper Smoke Laval wanted to see as he went to the pen for righthander Matthew Naylor. Two pitches into his appearance, shortstop Hunter Hanks brought home the final tally of the frame with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Lipscomb’s Kyle Kemp earned his second career start on the mound. The redshirt freshman ran himself into trouble in each of the 3.2 innings he worked. Kemp walked three, hit three and allowed four hits while limiting the Ospreys to only one run.
The Bisons looked to be in business in the top of the sixth after Hunter Hanks singled to left center to lead off the frame and Michael Gigliotti followed with a bunt single to get two men on with no outs. UNF then went to the bullpen for Corbin Olmstead. The 2015 First Team All-Conference selection needed just four pitches to end the frame.
Lee Solomon, looking to get a sacrifice down, popped the bunt up to the catcher on the very first pitch. Olmstead then got Adam Lee to hit a scorcher up the middle, but it went straight to the UNF shortstop for an inning-ending double play.
The Ospreys (30-16, 9-6 A-Sun) took advantage of the Bisons misfortunes and loaded the bases for a third time in the game after a leadoff walk and back-to-back bunt singles. Following a pitching change that saw Dallas Gibson toe the rubber, Olmstead pushed a run across while hitting into his third double play of the afternoon and tying the game at 4-4.
UNF then took a 5-4 lead on the very next pitch as Dakota Higdon scored on a passed ball from backstop Chucky Vazquez. Senior reliever Jaesung Hwang then came in and got the Bisons out of trouble with a fly ball to right field.
North Florida tacked on a big insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on a fielder’s choice to make it 6-4.
Down to its final three outs, Lipscomb tried to mount a rally in the top of the ninth. Dodson laced a double over the head of the UNF right fielder with one out. Sorrells then walked to put two men on.
With two outs right fielder Allan Hooker stepped in and smashed a ball up the middle to bring home Dodson and cut the UNF lead to 6-5. With runners on the corners Vazquez stepped in the box and did not get the bat off his shoulder as he punched out for the third time on the afternoon to end the game.
Freshman southpaw Alex Dorso took the loss, falling to 0-3 on the season. He failed to record an out while giving up one run on two hits.
Olmstead picked up the victory for UNF and improved to 5-0. The righty tossed the final four frames, scattering three hits and giving up one run. He struck out five and walked one.
Around the Horn:
- Lipscomb combined to score 10 runs in the first inning against the Ospreys in the series.
- The Bisons reach the double-digit plateau for hits in the eighth consecutive game.
- Dodson recorded his 14th multiple-hit game after finishing 3-for-5 with two doubles and a RBI.
- Gigliotti laid down his 15th bunt single of the season in the top of the sixth.
- Hanks and Gigliotti also picked up two hits in the loss.
- Gigliotti made his first start since April 22 at Kennesaw State. He batted in the 9-hole for the first time in his career.
- The Bisons used six pitchers in the loss.
- Quinn Moynihan made an appearance as a pinch runner in the top of the ninth.
Lipscomb returns to the Music City on Tuesday May 10 to take on Tennessee Tech at Ken Dugan Field in nonconference action. The first pitch is set for 6 p.m.