NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Lipscomb senior first baseman Adam Lee will not soon forget the events of Friday night.
The Franklin, Tennessee native was honored with the Ken Dugan Award during a pregame ceremony before capping off the festivities with a walk-off 2-run home run to give Lipscomb a 5-4 victory over Florida Gulf Coast in the Atlantic Sun Conference series opener at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“This was a hard-fought game on both sides from start to finish,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “Our guys just hung in there and were able to somehow find a way to win. What a night for our team and fan base.”
The Bisons entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 4-3 and in need of a rally. With one out in the frame, second baseman Lee Solomon singled and then stole second base to put himself into scoring position.
Lee then hammered a 0-2 pitch over the wall in left center to give Lipscomb its first walk-off home run of the season.
“I had been struggling all game, so I was just looking to battle in that final at-bat,” Lee said. “I knew that if Lee (Solomon) got on base that he would try and take second to get into scoring position.
“With him there and an 0-2 count I was just trying to put something in play, but it just so happened I got a good swing on it and it fell over the fence.”
Fresh off his fourth Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Week honor, Brady Puckett again delivered a solid outing on the mound. The sophomore righty went 8.1 innings and surrendered four earned runs while striking out six Eagle hitters.
After FGCU (22-26, 7-9 ASUN) opened the game with a run in the top of the first, the Bisons knotted the contest at 1-1 with an RBI ground out by Zeke Dodson in the bottom half.
Gage Morey gave FGCU a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth with a sacrifice fly.
Lipscomb (26-23, 9-7 ASUN) took the lead for the first time at 3-2 in the seventh after Allan Hooker started the rally by hitting a soft grounder in front of the plate before reaching second base on an errant throw by FGCU catcher Matt Roberts.
Senior backstop Chucky Vazquez then doubled down the left field line to drive in Hooker and tie the contest. Vazquez would later score on a failed pickoff attempt at third base as the ball careened into foul territory.
However, the lead did not last long for the Bisons. In the top of the eighth, FGCU second baseman Jake Noll drilled a high fly ball to left field that Tevin Symonette lost it in the lights, allowing Noll to advance 90 feet from home with his second triple of the season. A sacrifice fly by Tyler Selesky brought Noll home and evened the score at three runs apiece.
FGCU took a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth when Matt Reardon singled through the right side, allowing Morey to score. Lipscomb’s Lee had other ideas, nailing his two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to steal the win from the Eagles.
Senior lefty Jaesung Hwang pitched the final two outs of the ninth and picked up his second win of the season.
Garrett Anderson took the loss for FGCU, falling to 1-2 on the year. Lee was the only batter he faced.
After the game Lee talked briefly about what it means to him to be named the 2016 Ken Dugan Award winner.
“It’s insane and I am very humbled to be associated with Coach Dugan and what he stood for,” Lee said. “Having your peers and your coaches kind of look at you in that same view really means a lot. It is very surreal especially when you see the guys who have won it before you. You have no idea what it means to me. It is awesome.”
The Ken Dugan Award is given annually to the Lipscomb baseball player who most displays a love, passion and a respect for the game of baseball, who demonstrates the burning desire and the work ethic to continuously improve as a player and become a champion, who displays good character in victory and in defeat, and has a deep respect for God, his family and his teammates. Jonathan Allison took home the honor in 2015.
Around the Horn:
- With the win, coupled with a North Florida victory, the Bisons have locked up a spot in the ASUN Baseball Championship at Dugan Field on May 25-28.
- Lee’s walk-off increased his team-leading RBI total to 55 and places him as the league leader, just one in front of FGCU’s Noll.
- He moved ahead of Jonathan Allison (2015) and Zach Messer (2010) for the second most RBI in a single season in Lipscomb's NCAA era. Caleb Joseph reigns supreme with 61 in 2008.
- riday’s victory, Lipscomb has set a new record for wins at home in season with 24. This year’s team broke the previous record of 23 home wins set by the 2012 Bisons team.
- The Bisons had 12 hits on Friday, which marks the 10thconsecutive game in which Lipscomb has 10 or more hits. That sets a new record in Lipscomb’s NCAA Division I era, besting the previous record that was set from April 4-19, 2007 of nine consecutive double-digit hit performances.
- Vazquez has reached base in 13 straight games. The senior catcher has been swinging a hot bat lately after a slump that lasted over a month. The Broward Community College transfer is 8-of-19 with 6 doubles and 5 RBI in his last 6 games.
- Dodson failed to get a base knock on Friday, snapping a 10-game hitting streak. However, the freshman has been excellent at the hot corner and at the plate this season. The Tift, Georgia native is 34-of-81 (.420) in his last 20 games.
- Solomon tied his career high with four hits on the night (4-for-5). Symonette finished just behind Solomon with three hits (3-for-4). They each picked up their team-leading 16th multiple-hit game of the season.
- Freshman Cade Sorrells was the only other Bison to record multiple hits. He finished 2-for-4 on the night.
- After not swiping a bag in 17 straight games leading into the week, Solomon now has stolen bases in back-to-back games, increasing his league-leading total to 24.
- The Bisons now have 86 stolen bases on the season tying them with the 2007 squad for third most in a single season in school history. 93 and 91 are the top two season totals.
Lipscomb and FCGU meet again on Saturday for Game 2 of the Atlantic Sun conference series. Sophomore right-hander Jeffrey Passantino (5-3, 3.16 ERA) will get the start on the mound for the Bisons. Saturday will be “Senior Day” at Dugan Field, with Lipscomb’s six graduating seniors receiving their diplomas on the field at 10 a.m. There will also be a brief ceremony 30 minutes prior to Saturday's 2 p.m. first pitch to honor those seniors and their families.