NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Lipscomb baseball team saw their season come to an end on Friday, falling to No. 5 Florida Gulf Coast by a score of 8-6 in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. The Bisons had lost 1-0 to North Florida earlier in the day, forcing an elimination game with the Eagles.
“It’s abrupt,” said Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand of the season-ending loss. “When you put so much into it all season and then play such a good game this morning and then battle in this game too, it’s tough to see everything end in one day like this.”
Right-hander Kyle Kemp made just his fifth start of the season and went five innings while surrendering five hits and giving up four earned runs. The redshirt freshman from Port Charlotte, Florida also struck out three FGCU hitters and walked two.
“I’m proud of them, we had a good season,” said Forehand. Given that we had a young team and some injuries, I think we had a solid season.”
Lipscomb’s bats woke up after a morning game in which the Bisons managed just two base knocks. Lee Solomon hustled down the line to beat out an infield single and the throw got away allowing him to race to third. Adam Lee then stepped to the plate and crushed a full-count offering well over the left field wall for a two-run home run, giving the Bisons a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
FGCU (25-31) answered with four runs in the third to take the lead. Matt Reardon reached on a throwing error by Kemp, and the ball found its way up the right field line to allow both Eagle baserunners to score and Reardon to get to third base. Jake Smith doubled in Reardon and Zach Spivey’s sacrifice fly brought Smith in to make it 4-2 in favor of the Eagles.
The Bisons quickly responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the third to retake the lead. Lee singled through the left side and then stole second base. Zeke Dodson drove him in with an RBI single, before giving way to Tevin Symonette, who launched a two-run bomb off the batting cages beyond the left field wall. That gave Lipscomb a 5-4 advantage.
In the fifth, FGCU’s Stefano Belmonte tied the game at five with a sacrifice fly that plated Smith.
The Eagles took advantage of Lipscomb’s bullpen woes to regain an 8-5 lead in the sixth. Gage Morey scored on a wild pitch by Kyle Weller, who had relieved Kemp. Reardon and Stefano Belmonte also each had RBI base hits for FGCU.
Lipscomb (31-27) would score one more run on an RBI ground out by Solomon, but it would not be enough. FGCU held on for an 8-6 victory and advanced to the next round of the tournament.
Senior reliever Jaesung Hwang was stellar in relief during his final game in a Lipscomb uniform. The Cumming, Georiga native went 3.1 innings and did not allow a run, while striking out two FGCU batters. He was Lipscomb’s longest-tenured player, having played for the Bisons since the 2012 season.
FGCU’s Garrett Anderson baffled Lipscomb hitters in relief of starter Ryan Lang. The junior lefty went 6.1 innings and gave up just one unearned run while striking out six Bisons en route to his second win of the season.
“(Anderson) did a good job against us by putting up six zeros in a row,” said Forehand. It’s hard to come back from that.”
The Bisons lose six seniors – Lee, Weller, Hwang, Chucky Vazquez, Cody Glenn, and Geordie Carlson.
“A lot of people don’t recognize that it’s more than just being on the field, but that we lose six guys that we really care about,” said Forehand. “That’s what makes it the hardest.”
Forehand is grateful for the hard work and effort that the seniors have given the program.
“This program is to the point where we care about each other more than anything,” Forehand mentioned. “I’m glad these six guys spent their time here at Lipscomb.”
Around the Horn:
- Lipscomb registered 12 hits, which is the 17th time in the last 19 games the Bisons have managed 10 or more base knocks.
- Solomon went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored to cap his magnificent season. The sophomore second baseman finished the year with a .370 batting average, good for fourth-best in Lipscomb’s NCAA Division 1 era.
- Lee went 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs in his last game for the Bisons. The senior first baseman increased his single-season RBI record to 64 with his two-run blast in the first inning.