|February 18, 2017||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Win: DORSO (1-0)||1.1||0||0||0||1||0|
|Loss: PALM (0-1)||6.0||6||3||3||5||5|
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - In a game that seemed like every base runner would matter, it was a bases-loaded walk from junior center fielder Michael Gigliotti that proved to be the difference in a 3-2 win over Oakland for the Lipscomb baseball team Saturday afternoon at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
The Bisons (2-0) jumped on top in the home half of the third inning when junior second baseman and preseason All-ASUN selection Lee Solomon turned on a pitch and sent it over the left field fence for his first long ball of the young season. Junior transfer Blake Thomas, who doubled to lead off the frame, came around to score from second to give Lipscomb an early 2-0 lead.
“I went into the at-bat trying to make something happen,” Solomon said. “I was able to get a piece of that pitch and ended up driving in a couple runs for us.”
Oakland's offense was limited by Lipscomb right-hander Jeffrey Passantino for most of the afternoon, managing only five hits off the junior, but managed to scratch a single run across in both the fourth and fifth innings to level the game at 2-2.
“Jeffrey did a tremendous job for us today,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “One of the keys in the game was a big 11-pitch at-bat he was able to win early in the game. I thought that helped turn the game in our favor and give us an extra kick in our step.
“He also ran into some trouble there in the middle innings, but was able to limit the damage to just a couple of one-run innings. That was a big reason we were able to win this game today.”
In the bottom of the sixth, sophomore first baseman Cade Sorrells got things rolling when he beat out a high chopper that settled between home plate and the mound. Two batters later junior right fielder Allan Hooker singled through the left side of the infield before Thomas drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases for Gigliotti.
With two outs on the board, the preseason All-American quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count and then battled the Oakland pitcher for seven more throws before finally drawing the eventual game-winning walk to allow Sorrells to trot 90 feet across the plate.
For Passantino, the reigning Cape Cod Most Outstanding Pitcher, it was a bittersweet performance. The Fort Myers, Florida native was throwing the first game of his career without his dad, Jeff, looking on after his sudden passing in early November.
“It felt great to be back out on the mound,” Passantino said. “The weight (of losing his dad) has been hard, but I’ve been waiting for this day and it was a good one.
“This was the first game for me pitching without my dad and of course it was on my mind, it’s tough. But my family is so great and it was good to see them make the trip up to support me.”
With tons of family members in attendance, Passantino looked sharp from the onset. He worked 5.0 frames and surrendered one earned run on five hits. He struck out six and walked just one in 83 pitches.
“I was focused and amped up going in,” Passantino said. “It feels great to get two big wins to start the season. This is what we’ve been working for all offseason. Now we just can’t let up off the gas, we have to come out tomorrow ready to finish the sweep.”
Sophomore southpaw Alex Dorso entered in relief and grabbed the victory after throwing 1.1 innings.
“The bullpen was solid once again,” Forehand said. “Alex and Denton did a great job of coming in and limiting a good Oakland club.”
Senior Denton Norman returned to the rubber after missing all of last season with an injury. The fifth-year hurler tossed the final 1.2 stanzas without allowing a run or hit. He struck out two, walked one and picked up his first career save.
“Denton, that guy is such a big part of our staff,” Forehand said. “It was tremendous seeing him back out there throwing. He did what we needed him to do, come in and close the game.”
- Lipscomb improves to 6-0 all-time against Oakland.
- Thomas and Ryan Stevens made their Lipscomb debuts Saturday. Thomas went 1-for-3 at the dish with a double, a run and a walk. He also led the team with three fielding assists.
- Stevens entered in relief in the seventh and needed only six pitches to retire two batters.
- Six different Bisons recorded a hit in the win.
- After swiping 25 bases a season ago, Solomon stole his first two of 2017. He now stands eighth all-time with 27 career steals.
- Zeke Dodson and Sorrells also picked up a stolen base.
- The Bisons left nine men on base, compared to seven for Oakland.
- Passantino's mother, Elizabeth, and uncle, Joe, threw out the ceremonial first pitches before Saturday's win.
- Game time was 2:36 with 357 looking on in attendance.
The Bison return to the diamond Sunday at 1 p.m. with Adam Stewart (4-2, 7.01 ERA in 2016) set to take the mound as Lipscomb goes for the sweep.