NASHVILLE, Tenn.- After a thrilling walk-off victory on Friday night, the Lipscomb baseball team produced a disappointing performance Saturday afternoon on “Senior Day,” falling to Florida Gulf Coast 19-4 at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
FGCU’s Jake Noll and Tyler Selesky were the heavy hitters on Saturday, combining to go 7-for-10 with 10 RBI and six runs scored. Noll hit a three-run home run in the second inning and Selesky capped off the scoring with a grand slam in the ninth.
Sophomore right-hander Jeffrey Passantino had his shortest outing since becoming a starter as a freshman in 2015. The Fort Myers, Florida native took the loss after going just 1.1 innings, surrendering eight hits and seven runs. He fell to 5-4.
“They (FGCU) were swinging the bats really well today,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “We are accustomed to Jeffrey (Passantino) going out there and getting three quick outs, but today that wasn’t the case. He just didn’t have his best stuff today.
“But give credit to FGCU, they are a good ball team and that showed today.”
FGCU (23-26, 8-9 ASUN) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in first and piled on four more runs in the second to take a commanding 7-0 advantage. Noll’s three-run home run was the dagger in the second inning before Passantino was lifted three batters later.
The Bisons (26-24, 9-8 ASUN) appeared to be primed for a two-out rally in the fifth after back-to-back singles by Michael Gigliotti and Lee Solomon, but Lipscomb was unable to do further damage.
FGCU tacked on three more runs in the seventh to extend its lead to 10-0. Gage Morey and Ryan Shinn both drew walks with the bases loaded and Matt Reardon picked up an RBI on a sacrifice fly.
Lipscomb’s offense finally showed signs of life in the bottom of the seventh when Jeffrey Crisan led off the frame with a single and Hunter Hanks followed with a double down the left field line. Gigliotti grounded out to the shortstop and Crisan was able to cross the plate. Solomon sent a single through the right side to drive in Hanks and cut FGCU’s lead to 10-2, but it was the Eagles offense who was far from finished.
The Eagles scored two runs in the eighth and seven runs in the ninth. Selesky’s grand slam over the right field wall highlighted the scoring in the ninth.
The Bisons managed two runs in the bottom of the ninth on a double by Gigliotti and an RBI ground out from Adam Lee.
John Pryor was impressive in relief of Passantino. The junior lefty went 5.1 innings, his longest outing of the season thus far. Pryor surrendered two earned runs on one hit while striking out three Eagle hitters.
Mario Leon picked up the win for the Eagle after tossing six scoreless innings. Leon struck out seven Bisons and only allowed four base hits.
Lipscomb’s six seniors (Geordie Carlson, Cody Glenn, Jaesung Hwang, Lee, Kyle Weller, Chucky Vazquez) were honored on the field with their families before the game. A special graduation ceremony was also held on the field earlier in the morning, as the players missed Lipscomb’s graduation while in Jacksonville last Saturday.
“Any senior who has been around this program carries a lot of ownership of the product we have built here,” Forehand said. “We just wanted to honor them for the time commitment and hard work they have put in here, as well as showing them what they mean to our team.”
Around the Horn:
- Solomon stole third base in the first inning to increase his league-leading total to 25. The sophomore has now stolen a base in three consecutive games after not swiping a bag in the previous 17 contests.
- The Bisons continue their climb up the single-season stolen base charts. This year’s team now has 87 stolen bags and sole possession of third place after passing the 2007 team’s total of 86. 93 remains the number to beat as the highest stolen base output by the Bisons in a season since Lipscomb joined NCAA Division 1.
- Lipscomb was able to get 10 hits on Saturday, pushing its streak of double-digit hit performances to 11 consecutive games. On Friday, the Bisons reached 10 consecutive games of 10 or more hits, setting a new record in the team’s NCAA Division 1 era.
- Solomon continued his tear at the plate by going 3-for-4. The Columbus Academy graduate is 23-of-50 (.460) with eight RBI in his last 11 games.
- FGCU’s 18 hits were the most Lipscomb has given up since allowing 18 hits to Eastern Michigan on March 18th.
- After Pryor’s exit, four Lipscomb relievers could not slow down the FGCU batters. Adam Stewart, Alex Dorso, Geordie Carlson, and Dalton Curtis combined to throw the final two innings and give up seven earned runs.
- Hanks (2-for-3, 2 2B) and Gigliotti (2-for-5, 2 RBI) were the only other Lipscomb batters to record multiple hits.
- Adam Lee's RBI groundout in the ninth pushes his season total to 56, just five behind Caleb Joseph's 61 in 2007 for the most ribbies in a single-season in school history.
Lipscomb will attempt to rebound in the rubber match of the FGCU series on Sunday afternoon. Kyle Kemp (2-1, 5.32 ERA) will make his third start of the season after moving into the Sunday starter role two weeks ago. Game time is set for noon at Dugan Field.
“We just have to forget about this one,” Forehand said. “They played a lot better than we did today. Now we have to come out tomorrow and get it back going again. This was baseball. Sometimes when things don’t go your way it can get bad in a hurry. But I think we will be ready to go tomorrow.”