NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Giving up a pair of runs in the top of the 11th inning, the Lipscomb baseball team dropped a 6-4, extra-inning decision to Missouri State in the second game of the Mule Mix Classic Saturday afternoon at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“Obviously I am disappointed we lost, but it was a hard-fought defensive game,” Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand said. “Missouri State is a tough ball club, but we had our chances to win.
“It came down to the last play. That wasn’t the only opportunity we had, but at least we were able to get the game back to where it could flip with one swing of the bat. They just made one more play than we did today.”
The Bisons (4-2) got the offense going with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Junior second baseman Lee Solomon laced a double into the left centerfield gap to lead off the frame and scored two batters later on a RBI single by junior catcher Jake Perry.
Sophomore right fielder Von Watson then brought Perry home with a double into left center before scoring on the next at-bat when sophomore left fielder Tevin Symonette ripped a single up the middle.
Lipscomb’s junior hurler, Jeffrey Passantino, was in cruise control through the first half of the game, retiring 13 of the first 16 batters he faced. Entering the fifth stanza, the Fort Myers, Florida native had struck out four straight batters, including striking out the side in the fourth.
Later in the inning the Bears got on the board when center fielder Hunter Steinmetz singled home Drew Millas to cut the Lipscomb lead to 3-1.
In the top of the sixth Missouri State’s heavy hitters flipped the momentum. Preseason All-American third baseman Jake Burger led off the frame with his second home run of the season when he launched a ball over the trees in left center. Burger finished as one of the nation’s leaders in 2016 with 21 long balls.
Following a walk to the next batter, shortstop Jeremy Eierman got a hold of a pitch and sent it beyond the fence in right field to give Missouri State its first lead of the day at 4-3.
“We had a good matchup with Jeff on the mound,” Forehand said. “He held down a dangerous offensive ball club with some heavy bats. He had that one big inning where they hit a couple home runs, but I thought he pitched well.”
With the Bisons still trailing entering the bottom of the eighth frame, it was time for Lipscomb’s Preseason All-American to make his mark. Junior centerfielder Michael Gigliotti, who entered the day batting .091, jumped on the third pitch he saw and cranked a no-doubter into Lake Lipscomb to level the contest at 4-4.
The solo shot was the first earned run the MSU bullpen had allowed in 19.2 combined innings this season.
The Bisons went to sophomore Kyle Kemp out of the bullpen in the 11th inning. After striking out the leadoff man, Kemp surrendered a solo homer to Millas and a RBI-double to Alex Jefferson to give the Bears a lead.
In the home half Zeke Dodson drew a 1-out walk and Perry followed with a single. After a groundball from Cade Sorrells moved both runners into scoring position, Watson went down swinging on six pitches.
Kemp (0-1) took the loss after giving up two runs on three hits in one inning of work. However, he did strike out the side.
Passantino lasted 5.1 frames where he surrendered four runs on seven hits. The righty did finish one off his career high with nine punch outs.
“The pitching on both sides were really solid today,” Forehand said. “We were able to come up with a few big hits here and there, but for the most part they (MSU) held our offense in check.”
Missouri State’s starter Jordan Knutson tossed 6.0 innings giving up three runs on six hits. He struck out nine and walked one. Trey Turner (2-0) got the win for the Bears after ringing up eight in 4.0 frames.
The Bears nearly broke a 50-year program record with 18 punchouts from their staff. The record stands at 19, which was set on March 23, 1967 vs. Oklahoma Christian.
Around the Horn:
- Saturday's showdown was the first-ever between the two programs.
- The Purple and Gold has gotten off to a slow start at the plate early on this season, leading to a league-worst .219 team batting average. Its eight base knocks are the second most of the season.
- The 18 strikeouts by Bison batters are the most in a game in program history. The previous high of 16 happened twice -- at Troy (3/12/05) and at Vanderbilt (3/19/08).
- Gigliotti’s eighth-inning homer was his first long ball of the season. He totaled three home runs in 2016 and five in 2015.
- Perry was the only Bison to collect multiple hits Saturday, finishing 2-for-5. He is tied with Zeke Dodson for the team lead with two multi-hit performances on the year. No Bison has recorded more than one game with multiple RBI.
- Lipscomb's arms rang up a season-high 15 batters in the loss -- tied for the fifth most in program history. It's the third game of the season that the Bisons registered double-digit Ks.
- Watson recorded his second double of the season, while Solomon etched his first.
- Gigliotti and Cade Sorrells are the only Bisons to have reached base in all six games this season. Perry has now reached in five straight.
- Crisan holds the top hitting streak on the squad at three games.
- Seniors Denton Norman and John Pryor made appearances out of the pen. It was Norman's team-high fourth game, and Pryor's third.
- Missouri State's senior All-American closer Bryan Young recorded a school-record 29th career save.
- The win for for MSU marks its third straight game the Bears erased a two-run deficit to grab a come-from-behind victory.
Lipscomb will wrap up the 2017 Mule Mix Classic Sunday when the Northwestern Wildcats out of the Big Ten Conference visit Dugan Field for a 1 p.m. contest. Sophomore righty Adam Stewart (0-1, 33.75) will toe the rubber and will be facing NU’s Tommy Bordignon, who will be making his first start of the season.
For the most up-to-date information on Lipscomb Baseball, follow @BisonBaseball on Twitter, @LipscombBaseball on Instagram or visit LipscombSports.com/Baseball. You can also ‘Like’ the Bisons on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LUBaseball.