NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tevin Symonette hit two of three Lipscomb home runs to power the Bisons past No. 3 Jacksonville, 10-8, in the opening round of the Atlantic Sun Conference at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium Wednesday night.
“We swung the bat really well tonight,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “Tev had two big homers for us and then Hunter (Hanks) had one. Those really helped jump start our offense, but overall we were seeing the ball good tonight.”
With the victory, Lipscomb has now won eight of its last 10 games in the ASUN Tournament, including five straight.
The Bisons had to hold off a furious Jacksonville rally in the ninth to secure the win after the bullpen gave up four runs in relief of starter Brady Puckett. With one out and the league’s home run leader standing at the plate representing the game-tying run in the bottom of the ninth, senior southpaw Cody Glenn came in and shut the door for his first save of the season.
Puckett extended his conference leading win total to nine as the sophomore fanned eight Jacksonville batters over seven innings, while allowing nine hits and four earned runs. He has struck out at least five batters in 13-of-15 starts this season.
“Brady ran into some trouble tonight in the seventh, but overall I thought he gave us a great start,” Forehand said. “
After a scoreless first inning, the Lipscomb bats came alive for three runs in the second. Tevin Symonette blasted a solo home run over the left field fence to get the scoring started. Three batters later, Hunter Hanks smoked a line drive over the wall to plate Allan Hooker and put the Bisons ahead 3-0.
Symonette hit his second round tripper in the fourth to extend Lipscomb’s lead to 5-0. Cade Sorrells led off the inning with a double to the gap and then scored on Symonette’s seventh home run of the year.
Jacksonville (33-21) got on the board with a run in the fourth. J.J. Gould and Austin Hays produced back-to-back singles, and Gould came around to score on a single up the middle from Angel Camacho. Puckett induced two fly outs to prevent further damage and get out of the inning.
Lipscomb (31-25) added two more runs in the sixth on three doubles. Senior catcher Chucky Vazquez hammered a double to center field and scored on Hanks’s RBI double down the left field line. Solomon then crushed one off the wall in left field to drive in Hanks and make it 7-1 in favor of the Bisons.
Austin Hays crushed his 15th home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth, a solo shot to center that trimmed Lipscomb’s lead to 7-2.
The Dolphins added two more runs in the seventh to cut Lipscomb’s advantage to 7-4. Connor Stephens singled up the middle to drive in Nathan Koslowski and Dakota Julyila later plated Stephens with an RBI ground out.
The Bisons added three insurance runs in the eighth to extend their advantage to 10-4. Solomon singled with the bases loaded, allowing Vazquez to score. Zeke Dodson came through with a two-out single up the middle that scored Hanks and Gigliotti.
Jacksonville did not go down without a fight. Camacho picked up his second RBI of the game with a ground out in the eighth. Nate Ricci scored on a wild pitch in the ninth and Parker Perez lined an RBI double to left field. Perez scored on another wild pitch, but that would be the final run of the game. Glenn came on in relief of Kyle Weller and induced a pop out and a groundout to secure his first save of the season.
Nathan Disch took the loss for Jacksonville after pitching three innings and giving up five runs on six hits.
Adam Lee and Michael Gigliotti, who have been key parts of the offense this season, failed to find a base hit. The dynamic duo combined to go 0-for-10 with one run scored.
“That usually doesn’t happen with those guys,” Forehand said. “Gigs hit the ball hard tonight, it just went right at their guys. Adam didn’t have a great night at the plate, but other guys picked him up. As good as he has been all year, I think we can give him a break on this one.”
Around the Horn:
- The 55 combined runs scored on day one of the championship represent the fourth-highest scoring output in the opening round of the tournament's history.
- The Bisons hit three home runs for the first time all year to push their season total to 35. Lipscomb has hit two home runs on six different occasions this season, with the last multi-HR performance coming in a 22-12 victory over NJIT.
- Solomon went 4-for-5 with 2 RBI and a double. The ASUN Scholar Athlete of the Year now has 22 multi-hit games, which leads the team.
- Puckett’s 8 strikeouts helped him cross the century mark as he now has 101 punch outs this season. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee native is in second place on Lipscomb’s single-season strikeout charts. Josh Smith, who currently pitches for the Cincinnati Reds, has held the record since 2010 when he struck out 124 batters.
- Lipscomb had 14 hits on Wednesday, which is the 16thtime in the last 17 games that the Bisons have registered double-digits in the hits column.
- Hanks closed the night with only two hits, but the short stop made them worth while. He was 2-for-3 with 3 RBI, 3 runs, 2 extra-base hits and a walk.
- Seven different Bisons recorded a base hit in the win. Four of those had multiple hits to go along with multiple RBI.
- Senior Jaseung Hwang made his 11thappearance of the season in relief of Puckett.
Lipscomb will face North Florida in the second round of the ASUN tournament on Thursday. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. at Dugan Field.
“When you win this kind of game, you have a chance to recoup for a while,” Forehand said. “Now we must come back and play a really good North Florida team. We will be prepared and ready. Hopefully this game will be good to us like it was last year with the late-night opening round. It’s going to be fun tomorrow and I think our guys are ready.”