NASHVILLE, Tenn. - After a tremendous pitcher’s duel, it took 10 innings to decide Friday morning’s battle between Lipscomb and North Florida.
Dakota Higden lined one to the gap in right center field, plating Bubba Olivera for a 1-0 Osprey walk-off victory at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
Lipscomb’s Jeffrey Passantino and North Florida’s Austin Drury went toe-to-toe. The two pitchers’ outings were so similar that after seven innings, each had thrown exactly 79 pitches.
Passantino delivered perhaps the best outing of his career when the Bisons needed him the most, but took the hard luck loss after Lipscomb’s offense managed just two base hits.
The Lipscomb right-hander went 9.2 innings, allowing just six hits and one run while striking out six and issuing one free pass. It was the longest outing of Passantino’s career, topping his performance against Georgia on March 12th, when he pitched 8.2 innings in what was also a 1-0 loss.
The 5-foot-11, Fort Myers, Florida native worked efficiently, averaging just 12.3 pitches per inning. Of the sophomore’s 119 total pitches, 84 went for strikes.
Drury bounced back after a rough outing the last time he faced Lipscomb, when the freshman lefty went just 1/3 of an inning while allowing six hits and four runs on May 8th. Friday’s contest went much better for Drury, as he went eight scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and no runs while fanning eight Lipscomb batters.
Lipscomb (31-26) had a chance to take the lead in the ninth after loading the bases with just one out. Lee Solomon led off with a single before Zeke Dodson and Tevin Symonette both drew walks. However, all three runners were stranded when Cade Sorrells grounded out.
After reaching base just six times in the first nine innings, North Florida (39-17) began its rally in the 10th with a single up the middle from Chris Berry. Olivera reached on a fielder’s choice and Berry was put out at second.
Kyle Brooks flew out to left field, and Lipscomb pitching coach James Odgen made a call to the bullpen after a short meeting with Passantino. Senior Cody Glenn came in to pitch to Higdon, who promptly hit a walk-off triple to give North Florida a 1-0 win.
Around the Horn:
- Lipscomb’s two hits were its fewest since March 12th in a 1-0 loss to Georgia. It was just the second time in the last 18 games in which the Bisons were held to less than 10 hits.
- Dodson and Solomon’s two singles were Lipscomb’s only two hits. Dodson reached base three times, while Symonette reached twice on free passes.
- Glenn made his fifth relief appearance of the season, but gave up the walk-off triple to the first batter he faced.
- Despite going 10 innings, the game lasted just 152 minutes on what was a sunny morning in Nashville.
- Rain in the Music City on Wednesday forced the early start time for Lipscomb’s second round game with North Florida. The game was originally scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Bisons are now tasked with a 4 p.m. elimination game today against No. 5 Florida Gulf Coast. Kyle Kemp (3-2, 5.08 ERA) will likely get the nod for Lipscomb.