DELAND, Fla. – The Lipscomb baseball team got championship performances at the plate and on the mound Friday to power its way to a 9-1 victory over the home standing Stetson Hatters and lock up the No. 4 seed in next week's Atlantic Sun Championship in Nashville.
“Any win that pushes you toward the next step is a great win,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “Tonight was a momentum win for our bunch. We got good performances all over the diamond tonight.
“This has always been a tough place for us to play, so to come in here and take the series is huge for us.”
With the victory Lipscomb won its first series over the Hatters since 2009. The Bisons, who had not won a game at Melching Field since 2007 halted a 9-game losing streak to Stetson at home on Thursday.
The win moved the Bisons to 29-25 overall and 11-9 in league play this season, while the Hatters fell to 25-28 and 9-11.
Senior first baseman Adam Lee put Lipscomb on top 2-0 in the third inning with a 2-run moon shot over the fence in left field for his team-leading sixth home run of the season.
In the top of the fourth the Bisons added to their lead with five runs in what could be described as the most confusing inning anyone has ever seen. With the bases loaded Jeffrey Crisan lifted a fly ball to deep right field for a sacrifice fly to score Tevin Symonette who reached on a leadoff walk.
Hunter Hanks then stepped in and that is where things got interesting. The junior shortstop blasted a ball to deep left center field for what appeared to be a RBI triple, however, the umpires officially ruled it a fly out. After an extended meeting the crew ruled it was a no catch, awarded Hanks a single and then ordered the runners back to their original positions to load the bases.
Michael Gigliotti ripped a ball down the right field line to score Von Watson and Allan Hooker for a 2-RBI double. Following a Stetson pitching change Lee Solomon laced a single up the middle to plate Hanks. Lee then finished off the 5-run frame with his third RBI of the night on a single to center field to bring home Gigliotti and give Lipscomb a 7-0 lead.
Lipscomb starter Jeffrey Passantino got back to his old form Friday and looked nearly unhittable at times while also getting some help from his defense. The righty retired the first nine batters he faced on they way to tossing 7.0 frames where he allowed just one run on four hits.
In the fourth and fifth innings after allowing the leadoff man to reach via a base hit, the sophomore induced a double play to limit the Hatters attack.
“It’s just so good to see Jeffrey bounce back,” Forehand said. “Last weekend was one hiccup in his year. To see him respond with the performance he had tonight, we know he is back. We were also able to limit his pitches again as we prepare for the tournament next week.”
Passantino struck out five batters without issuing a walk in his longest outing since going seven complete at Kennesaw State on April 23rd. Passantino improved to 6-4 on the year with the win.
The Bisons added an insurance tally in the ninth after Von Watson singled up the middle to score Hooker who led off the frame with a triple.
Lipscomb outhit Stetson 15-5 in the win and every player recorded a base knock.
“Any time we put up double-digit hits we are always going to have a good chance to win,” Forehand said. “It seems like we are where we need to be as an offense.”
With Lipscomb’s win and a FGCU loss to Kennesaw State, the Bisons clinched the No. 4 seed in next week's conference tournament. FGCU and Stetson are still jockeying for the final two seeds.
Kennesaw State will be the No. 1 seed after securing its first-ever ASUN regular season championship on Thursday. Jacksonville must defeat USC Upstate twice on Saturday to climb to the No. 2 seed. If they fail to do so, UNF will be the No. 2.
Around the Horn:
- Lipscomb swiped three stolen bases in the game to push its season total to 94, breaking the school’s all-time single-season mark. The 2010 squad held the previous mark with 93. Lee stole two bases, giving him 21, the second most in the conference. Gigliotti picked up his 14th.
- The Bisons record double-digit hits for the 14th time in the last 15 games.
- Passantino struck out at least five batters for the 10th time in 14 starts and allowed just one earned run for the eighth time this season.
- With six wins this season, Passantino is tied for the second most victories in the ASUN.
- Lee drove in three runs to push his yearly total to 60. He is now one RBI from tying Caleb Joseph’s all-time single-season mark set in 2007.
- Four players picked up multiple hits Friday.
- Watson and Lee finished with a game-high three hits apiece. Watson was 3-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored. Lee went 3-for-3 with 3 RBI, 2 runs, 2 walks and 2 stolen bases.
- Hooker notched his first triple of the season and the fifth of his career while picking up two hits and scoring twice.
- Solomon recorded his 19th multi-hit game of the season after finishing 2-for-5. He has now reached base safely in 14 straight games.
- Gigliotti's double was his 12th of the season. He finished with just five in 2015.
The series with Stetson will wrap up on Saturday at 10 a.m. with Kyle Kemp (2-2, 6.18 ERA) set to get the start on the mound.