NASHVILLE, Tenn. - With barely a cloud in the sky, the Lipscomb baseball team opened its 2017 campaign with a 7-3 victory over Oakland University at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen Lee Marsh Stadium.
"This was the first game and everybody was trying to get back in the feel of things," Lipscomb's 11th-year skipper Jeff Forehand said. "But overall if felt great to be back out here. After scrimmaging each other every day, it is just fun to get back out and roll."
JUCO transfer Jake Perry made a big splash in his Lipscomb debut by drilling a three-run double in the bottom of the seventh to give the Bisons a 7-3 lead, which they never relinquished.
"That is exactly what we expected when we got Jake (Perry)," Forehand said. "He is a big offensive guy. He was in a tough situation there and was able to foul off a pitch to get him to that big three-run double. That's a big-time at-bat. There are going to be many more of those to come."
Junior righty Brady Puckett managed to pick up the victory despite not being at his best. He allowed three runs in the first three innings, before settling down to produce a quality start. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee native went 6.2 innings, while allowing three runs and striking eight with no walks.
Puckett now stands all alone in second on the school's all-time wins list in the NCAA era with 17. He only trails Brandon McClurg's 19 (2006-09).
Oakland wasted little time in taking the lead when Zach Sterry launched a solo home run over the right-field fence in the top of the first.
The Bisons answered in the bottom of the frame when Zeke Dodson tripled in Michael Gigliotti for Lipscomb’s first run of the season. Dodson then scored on a wild pitch by Oakland starting pitcher Jake Lee, giving the Bisons a 2-1 advantage.
No runs were scored in the second, but the Grizzlies added two runs in the third on RBI hits from Mike McGee and Sterry.
Lipscomb regained the lead in the bottom of the third when Tevin Symonette lined a two-RBI double to score Perry and Dodson.
"The offense is obviously capable of more," Forehand said. "We got a couple of big two-out hits that really helped us be able to push the lead out. We do have more offense, I can promise you that."
Perry’s three-RBI double provided some insurance in the seventh, and John Pryor closed out the game on the mound to seal the victory. The senior left-hander pitched the final 2.1 innings and struck out three Golden Grizzlies.
"We have talked about it all spring long, we have a lot of veterans down in the bullpen," Forehand said. "When we can get that deep into games from our starters, we have full confidence in the pen to come in and close it out and that is exactly what they did."
Around the Horn:
- The Bisons are now 5-0 all-time against Oakland.
- Friday was the eighth straight season that Lipscomb opened the year at Dugan Field, going 4-4 in that stretch.
- Gigliotti reached based three times and scored two runs without registering a hit. With his stolen base in the first inning, the junior leadoff man is now sixth all-time in stolen bases, pushing his career total to 33.
- Dodson finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. His first-inning triple was the second of his career.
- Puckett did not allow a walk before Dallas Gibson came on in relief in the seventh. Gibson walked both batters he faced.
- Lipscomb only needed six hits to score its seven runs. The Bisons also drew four free passes.
- Along with Perry, Joshua Martinez (0-for-2) made his Lipscomb debut with a couple of at-bats.
- Bison fans came out in droves to watch the season opener as the announced attendance was 627.
Lipscomb and Oakland will be back in action on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Dugan Field. Junior righty Jeffrey Passantino (6-5, 3.40 ERA in 2016) will make his season debut after being named the most outstanding pitcher in the Cape Cod League last summer.