|March 18, 2017||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Win: PRYOR (1-0)||1.0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Loss: Lindgren (0-2)||1.0||3||5||5||2||2|
|March 18, 2017||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Win: PASSANTINO (1-0)||7.0||4||0||0||0||10|
|Loss: Headrick (0-2)||5.0||4||1||1||1||1|
|March 19, 2017||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Win: KEMP (2-1)||4.0||0||0||0||0||4|
|Loss: Huffman (1-1)||3.2||5||5||5||2||1|
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Everything the Lipscomb baseball team wanted in 2017 is still very much in reach, despite losing six of their previous eight games.
The Bisons will look to get off the schneid with a three-game series against Illinois State at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium this weekend. Friday’s opener is set for 4 p.m. and will be followed by a 2 p.m. first pitch Saturday and a 1 p.m. finale on Sunday.
Lipscomb enters the weekend off an eight-game stretch that -- featured three games apiece with No. 19 Michigan and SEC-member Auburn, along with a couple of midweeks against skidding in-state foes Tennessee Tech and UT Martin -- was seen as an opportunity to make a statement early in the season.
Entering Friday though, that has not been the case, as the Bisons lost 2-of-3 at Auburn, got swept by Michigan and never seemed to be in the game mentally in Wednesday’s loss at home to the Skyhawks. Those results have positioned Lipscomb at .500 for the first time this season and the first time since beginning 2016 at 2-2.
Although he is not worried about where his team is, Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand has begun to make a few adjustments to the lineup in order to try and get the Bisons out of this funk.
On Wednesday against UT Martin he moved his all-conference second baseman Lee Solomon to right field and dropped him from No. 2 in the lineup to the cleanup position. He also brought the hot-hitting Blake Thomas up from the bottom of the lineup to the No. 5 hole. It is still to be determined if those moves were just a one-game shakeup or if they are foreshadowing what is to come.
For the first time this season the Bisons will see a shakeup in the weekend rotation as well. After riding the horses Brady Puckett on Friday and Jeffrey Passantino on Saturday, Forehand will hand the ball to JUCO transfer Dayton Tripp on Sunday after the right-hander put together a couple quality starts en route to a 2-0 record in midweeks.
The Bisons will have Sunday's game broadcasted live on ESPN3, while Friday and Saturday will be shown via Facebook Live on the Lipscomb baseball FB page. Live stats will be available for all three games.
Lipscomb – RHP – Brady Puckett (2-2, 4.39 ERA, 26.2 IP, 13 ER, 23 K, 8 BB)
Illinois St. – LHP – Matt Walker (0-0, 1.50 ERA, 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 K, 4 BB)
Lipscomb – RHP – Jeffrey Passantino (0-0, 2.31 ERA, 23.1 IP, 6 ER, 29 K, 4 BB)
Illinois St. – LHP – Brent Headrick (0-1, 8.10 ERA, 10.0 IP, 9 ER, 4 K, 5 BB)
Lipscomb – RHP – Dayton Tripp (2-0, 5.00 ERA, 18.0 IP, 10 ER, 12 K, 8 BB)
Illinois St. – RHP – Brady Huffman (1-0, 1.69 ERA, 10.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 K, 2 BB)
SCOUTING ILLINOIS STATE:
The Redbirds enter the weekend 5-9 overall, but winners in three of their last four. ISU will have played in eight games in 10 days once the series wraps in Nashville, after spending its spring break in the area.
The Redbirds took 2-of-3 games at Western Kentucky last weekend and split a 2-game, midweek series at Tennessee Tech, giving ISU a 3-2 record over the road trip.
Illinois State currently has four players batting over .300, in Owen Miller (.369), Jordan Libman (.364), John Rave (.320) and Noah Sadler (.304). With a 3-for-4 day at Tennessee Tech, Miller recorded the 100th hit as a Redbird in just his 67th career game.
As a team ISU ranks 45th in the nation in scoring, running across the plate 7.2 times per outing. It also is one of the best in the country with eight triples to their name – the 12th most across Division I.
The area that ISU seems to struggle most with is its pitching staff, as they have combined to post a 6.18 team ERA – the 236th worst total in the nation.
Third-year head coach Bo Durkac will make some changes in the weekend rotation. Freshman southpaw Matt Walker will make his first career start Friday after posting a 1-0 record and a 1.50 ERA in just 6.0 innings this season.
ISU will counter with another lefty on Saturday in Brent Headrick (0-1, 8.10 ERA). Freshman right-hander Brady Huffman (1-0, 1.69 ERA) will toss the finale on Sunday in what will be just his second career start.
AROUND THE HORN:
- Lipscomb and Illinois State have met four times on the diamond in the series history with the Bisons holding a 3-1 advantage. After the Redbirds won the first meeting 8-2 in 2005, Lipscomb got out its broom and swept ISU in three games in 2010 (5-3, 8-1, 9-8). All four games have been played in Nashville.
- Lipscomb's 17 stolen bases are first in the ASUN. Gigliotti and Solomon have combined for nine swiped bags themselves, trailing only Stetson's Jacob Koos (7) for the most in the league.
- The Bisons rank 53rdin the nation after having accrued 80 bases on balls with Gigliotti drawing an ASUN best 17 walks. Gigliotti's numbers rank 10th in the NCAA.
- Cade Sorrells has reached base in all 16 of Lipscomb's contests in 2017, getting on first at a clip of .437. He and Gigliotti are the only two Bisons to reach in every game.
- Gigliotti now has bunt singles in back-to-back games, his first two bunts of the season.
- The Bisons have turned a league-high 13 double plays, with first baseman Sorrells and second baseman Lee Solomon participating in 12 of those defensive highlights.
- Jeffrey Passantino will look for his first win of the season after tossing four no-decisions. He leads the team and ranks sixth in the league with 29 strikeouts. His 11.19 strikeouts per nine innings rank 88th.
- Friday starter Brady Puckett enters the weekend with 18 career wins and needs just one victory to tie Brandon McClurg for the most all-time in the Bisons NCAA era.
- Forehand enters the series just five wins shy of picking up No. 500 for his career.
Lipscomb will make its annual trip to Murfreesboro to battle Middle Tennessee in a Tuesday midweek at Reese Smith Jr. Field. The return trip is set for 6 p.m.