NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Lipscomb baseball’s offense pounded out 11 hits to finish out the 2017 Mule Mix Classic with a 10-6 victory over Northwestern on a chilly Sunday afternoon at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
“Today was a game that really didn’t have any rhythm or flow to it, but any way you slice it, we are glad Lipscomb was the one who came out on top,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said.
Lipscomb (5-2) used a team effort at the plate, as all nine Bison starters registered a base hit. Outfielders Allan Hooker and Tevin Symonette both finished with a pair of base knocks.
Sophomore right-hander Adam Stewart recovered from a rough start last weekend to pick up his first win of the season Sunday.
“I thought Adam pitched pretty well today and it was glad to see him bounce back after the game last Sunday,” Forehand said. “He wasn’t getting many strikes called on the edge, so he gave up a few walks, but I liked that he battled his way through it to pick up his first win of the season.”
He went 5.2 innings and surrendered two runs, while striking out one and issuing four walks.
“Even though it wasn’t the best start, I did feel a little more comfortable today having already thrown last weekend,” Stewart said. “I worked on some stuff throughout the week and just went out today and tried to focus on executing the fastball.”
The second inning lasted nearly 45 minutes and proved to be pivotal. Northwestern (0-6) began the frame by plating two runs on RBI groundouts from Jack Claeys and Jack Dunn.
Lipscomb answered by batting around and scoring six runs in the bottom of the frame. Sophomore Von Watson got things started with an RBI single before Hooker drove in first baseman Cade Sorrells with a base knock.
Junior center fielder Michael Gigliotti made it 4-2 with an RBI groundout just after Watson crossed the plate on a wild pitch. The final two runs of the inning came when Hooker scored on a passed ball and Jake Perry shot an RBI single through the left side, putting Lipscomb ahead 6-2.
Senior shortstop Hunter Hanks, in his first game of the weekend, registered his first RBI of the year by drilling a double off the left field wall in the third. Symonette scored on the hit to extend Lipscomb’s lead to 7-2.
Northwestern’s Matt Hopfner smashed a grand slam over the left field wall in the top of the seventh to cut Lipscomb’s advantage to 9-6.
Junior second baseman and preseason All-ASUN selection Lee Solomon broke out of his early-season slump by ripping a triple to center field in the eighth. He later scored on a wild pitch to put the Bisons up 10-6, which held as the final score.
“It’s fun to watch when those first two guys (Gigliotti and Solomon) are getting on base, that is what makes our offense click,” Forehand said. “It was also good to see that everyone in the lineup recorded a hit today.
“This was the seventh game for us and I feel we are getting better each game.”
Lipscomb’s bullpen struggled in relief of Stewart, but Nicko Ortega and Dalton Curtis combined to pitch the final 2.2 innings without allowing any runs. Curtis tossed a scoreless ninth inning in what was his first action of the season.
“I was proud of the way the bullpen bounced back with Nicko and Dalton after having a couple of rough innings there late,” Forehand said.
Around the Horn:
- The Bisons evened their all-time record against Northwestern to one game apiece. The two teams also met in the 2013 Mule Mix Classic, when the Wildcats picked up an 11-4 victory.
- All three of Solomon’s hits this season have gone for extra bases. He is 3-of-25 (.120 avg) through the first seven games.
- Sophomore southpaw Alex Dorso relieved Stewart in the sixth inning and was able to escape an inherited jam thanks to a pick-off throw from Perry. He has yet to allow a run or a hit on the year.
- Dallas Gibson and Ryan Stevens struggled in the seventh inning, before Ortega pitched the final two outs of the frame. Gibson lasted just one-third of an inning where he gave up three runs on a hit, a walk and a hit batsman. Stevens only faced two batters, issuing a walk and giving up the grand slam.
Lipscomb will make the short trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky on Tuesday to face Western Kentucky in its first road matchup of the year. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. at Nick Denes Field.
“It is a great start to the season, but it Tuesday will be a good test for our guys with it being the first road game,” Stewart said. “I think we will be ready to play.”
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