AUBURN, Ala. – For the second time in as many days, the Lipscomb baseball team surrendered a lead against Auburn.
Sunday’s result, however, was different.
Instead of watching the Tigers steal a victory like they did Saturday afternoon, the Bisons used patient at-bats to draw timely walks and score twice in the final two frames for an 8-7 victory in 10 innings, avoiding an Auburn sweep.
“That was such a good win for us after losing like we did yesterday,” Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand said. “We had a hiccup there in the fourth, but the way we battled back I couldn’t be prouder. We had some great at-bats there late in the game and that proved to be the difference.
“What is so encouraging about this team is how resilient they are. I think at the end of the season this is a game that we will look back on and say it really gave us a boost and pushed us to the next level.”
Down to its final three outs in the ninth inning and trailing 7-6, Lipscomb loaded the bases on walks from Lee Solomon and Zeke Dodson, and a fielder’s choice by Cade Sorrells. Junior designated hitter Jake Perry then delivered a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Solomon to score and send the game to extra innings.
In the top of the 10th the Bisons strung together patient at-bats once again, loading the bases on three free passes. Sorrells then worked Auburn’s Daniel Sprinkle for the game-winning walk and his third RBI of the game.
On his 21st birthday with family in attendance, sophomore reliever Kyle Kemp pitched the final 3.0 innings and picked up his first win of the season. He only allowed one hit in the appearance.
“This win was big for the team,” Kemp said. “We struggled out of the gate on Friday and then gave one away on Saturday. We talked about slamming the door when we get these leads late and I thought we did a great job of that today. I am just so excited for the team that we are playing the way we are supposed to be.”
“Last year’s squad would have laid down and just given up after the way we played the first two days. But this is a new team and this is what we are capable of.”
Lipscomb (7-5) wasted no time in putting its offense in motion, scoring twice in the opening frame of the series finale. After a leadoff walk, Solomon dropped a double down the right field line to bring home Michael Gigliotti. Two batters later Solomon crossed the dish, making it a 2-0 Bison lead on a groundout by Sorrells.
The Bisons continued to flex their muscles in the top of the second, loading the bases on singles by Tyler Bethune and Blake Thomas and a walk from Gigliotti. Solomon delivered his second RBI-knock of the afternoon with a single to left. Dodson then took a pitch across the back to bring home Thomas before Sorrells extended Lipscomb’s lead to 5-0 on another groundout to the pitcher.
A promising start from Lipscomb’s sophomore hurler Adam Stewart came to halt in the bottom of the fourth when the Tigers (9-3) loaded the bases on a leadoff base knock and two walks, ending the day for the Homewood, Alabama native.
Sophomore lefty Alex Dorso was the first out of the pen. He allowed a sac fly, a walk and a 2-RBI double before handing it over to Dallas Gibson. The senior reliever allowed the first long ball of the weekend when Ingram turned on the third pitch he saw and sent it over the monster in left field to give Auburn a 7-5 lead.
Lipscomb responded with a run in the top of the fifth when Jake Perry brought home Dodson with a sacrifice fly to cut the Bisons deficit to 7-6.
Another highlight for the Bisons on Sunday was redshirt senior Tyler Bethune getting the start behind the plate. The Lawrenceville, Georgia native made his first start at catcher since March 1, 2015 against La Salle after dealing with injuries the previous two seasons.
“With everything that I have gone through the past two years with injuries, getting this win makes it so sweet,” Bethune said. “We get to go back home on a high note and it feels great.
“Coach told me last night that I was getting the start. I sprinted down the hallway as fast as I could go, rolled around in bed and couldn’t sleep. Then today I get here and was catching Stewart in pregame and I had to be extra calm, even though my head was going crazy. It was so awesome.”
Bethune finished the day 1-for-3 and a run scored.
Around the Horn:
- Junior Blake Thomas got the start at short and came through with a big performance. He posted a career best 3-for-3 day with a walk, one run scored, a team-high five assists and his first career stolen base.
- Solomon posted his second straight multi-hit effort, going 2-for-5 with two RBI, two runs and a walk.
- Dodson also had multiple hits, posting a 2-for-2 day with a run scored, an RBI and a career-high tying three walks.
- Perry drove in two runs, giving the Bisons three players with multiple RBI.
- Tevin Symonette picked up a base hit and stole his first bag of the year.
- Lipscomb left 12 men on base, while Auburn left 11.
- Sunday’s tilt was the longest of the season for the Bisons at 4:12.
- Sorrells continued to pile up his RBI total. The sophomore finished 0-for-4 with a walk, but drove in three huge runs. He now has a team-high 12 on the season.
“We talk about situational hitting all the time and today Cade was the perfect example,” Forehand said. “He didn’t get a hit, but he was able to do what he needed to do and drove in three runs. Those were big at-bats.”
- Gigliotti went 0-for-3 at the plate, but continued his 11-game on-base streak by drawing a career high three walks and scoring two runs. He and Sorrells have reached base in every game this season.
“Michael had some great at-bats,” Forehand said. “I don’t know if people realize how much he is worth to our team, not necessarily in driving in runs, but how he gets on base. He had three walks today and all three of them were great, great at-bats.”
The Bisons return home for a midweek matchup against Tennessee Tech on Tuesday at 4 p.m., before hosting Big Ten foe Michigan next weekend for a three-game series.
“It never gets any easier as the season goes on,” Forehand said. “We will try and catch our breath on the ride home before getting back at it tomorrow in preparation for Tuesday. Tennessee Tech, like everyone knows, is always a tough team. So we will focus on them before thinking about Michigan.”