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March 18, 2017123456789RHE
Illinois State3000020038121
Win: PRYOR (1-0) 1.000010
Loss: Lindgren (0-2) 1.035522
Miller (ILS) 523000
WATSON (LIP) 413401
March 18, 2017123456789RHE
Illinois State000000010150
Win: PASSANTINO (1-0) 7.0400010
Loss: Headrick (0-2) 5.041111
Grimm (ILS) 401000
Miller (ILS) 401000
Hutchinson (ILS) 401000
Libman (ILS) 301000
Sadler (ILS) 111000
SOLOMON (LIP) 423000
Passantino strikes out 10, Bisons sweep Redbirds on Saturday
Saturday, March 18, 2017
By Russell Vannozzi
Passantino strikes out 10, Bisons sweep Redbirds on Saturday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Behind a pair of big home runs from Jake Perry and Von Watson, the Lipscomb baseball team downed Illinois State 10-8 in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for the Bisons.

Jeffrey Passantino was dominant in game two and picked up his first win of the season as the Bisons topped the Redbirds 3-1 for the doubleheader sweep.

“We played very well today,” head coach Jeff Forehand said. “I thought we sort of played two different games. We came out and swung the bat well in the first game and then we got a masterpiece from Jeffrey (Passantino) in the second. I told him I thought if we had played 25 innings and he was pitching, I didn’t think Illinois State was going to score, he was that good.

“It was just a lot of positive things today going in the right direction. I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

Lipscomb (10-8) and Illinois State (5-11) will complete the series with game three on Sunday at 1 p.m.


GAME ONE: Lipscomb 10, Illinois State 8

A five-run seventh inning lifted the Bisons over the Redbirds in the series opener Saturday. The stanza was highlighted Watson who smashed a 3-run bomb into the trees beyond the right field fence for his first long ball of the season.

That homer capped a career day for the sophomore outfielder out of Potts Camp, Mississippi. Watson finished the afternoon 3-for-4 with a double and a career-high tying four RBI. He also drove in four against Oakland in the series finale last month. 

“Von gave us some big hits in game one,” Forehand said. “It was so good to see him come out and swing the bat well. We really need him to use this game to get going at the plate. He plays a big part in what we are tiring to do.”

Junior right-hander Brady Puckett went 6.0 innings and gave up five runs on 11 hits. He also struck out four and issued one free pass. Illinois State jumped on the hurler from the first at-bat of the day and used the momentum to plate three runs in the opening frame.

“We normally don’t give up three runs in the first, but that is kind of atypical for Brady,” Forehand said. “But I really liked the way we responded in the bottom of the inning.”

Lipscomb came up with a big answer of its own in the home half of the second with four runs to take a 4-3 lead. Perry sent a 3-run blast over the left field fence to knot the game before Watson drove in Blake Thomas for his first RBI of the game.

Hunter Hanks led off the second inning with a triple to right field. He later scored on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 5-3.

The Redbirds knotted the game at five thanks to an RBI ground out and a wild pitch in the top of the sixth.

Before Watson went deep in the seventh, Thomas drove in two runs on a single up the middle to put the Bisons in front, 7-5.

Illinois State made things interesting in the ninth by tacking on three runs, but senior Denton Norman was able to shut the door and get the final two outs to seal the win. 


GAME TWO: Lipscomb 3, Illinois State 1

After each of Passantino’s last two solid outings were spoiled by late-inning comebacks, the Bisons finally provided enough help to get the junior righty his first win of the season.

“Man it feels great,” Passantino said. “I wouldn’t be lying if I said I didn’t have a big smile on my face once the game was over. But our main as a team was to win both games today and we did, that is what’s most important.”

Passantino tossed 7.0 scoreless innings and struck out 10 Illinois State hitters to tie his career high. He did not issue any walks and exited the game after retiring his last 13 batters in a row.

“I thought this was my best start of the season,” Passantino said. “Everything was working the way I wanted it to and it’s always fun to get some strikeouts.”

The win was the first for Passantino since May 20, 2016 at Stetson – a stretch of six consecutive starts.

Perry put Lipscomb up 1-0 with an RBI single in the fourth inning. Later, Zeke Dodson plated Lee Solomon with a single in the sixth to make it 2-0.

After the bullpen took over for the final two frames, Illinois State jumped on the board in the eighth with a sacrifice fly from Joe Aeilts.

Solomon created a little bit of magic for the Bisons to tack on an insurance run in the home half of the frame. After a one-out single to right field, he stole second and third, and then scored on an infield groundball to secure the victory.

“I can’t say enough about Lee,” Forehand said. “He finally got going and that last inning showed what he is all about. He got a single, then stole second and third and then scored on an infield grounder. That is the game-changing stuff that he is able to do.”

Norman pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his second save of the afternoon.

“Everybody was clicking today, the offense was doing their job and the pitchers were doing what they were supposed to do,” Passantino said. “All around I thought we played two very clean games today and that is good to see.”


Around the Horn

  • Lipscomb improves to 5-1 in the all-time series with ISU.
  • In addition to his performance at the plate in game one, Watson robbed Illinois State of a homer in the seventh with a catch over the wall in left field.
  • Gigliotti extended his on-base streak to 18 games on Saturday after reaching in both contests. Sorrells, however, failed to reach in game two – ending his 17-game on-base streak and 6-game hit streak.
  • Passantino lowered his season ERA to 1.78 and currently has 39 punch outs to just four walks in 30.1 innings pitched.
  • Solomon is beginning to break out of his early season slump. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and two stolen bases in game two. He now leads the team in runs (18), doubles (6) and stolen bases (7-for-7).
  • Norman picked up two saves on the afternoon and now has three on the season. He lowered his ERA to 2.93 and has made a team-high 12 appearances out of the bullpen.


Up Next:

Lipscomb will wrap up the series with Illinois State on Sunday. JUCO transfer Dayton Tripp (2-0, 5.00 ERA) is set to make his first weekend start of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Dugan Field.

 “We have to come out and do the same thing we did today,” Passantino said. “Hopefully we will bring the energy and finish Illinois State off.”