NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lipscomb’s head baseball coach Jeff Forehand picked up a big victory Friday night when his Bisons defeated the Evansville Purple Aces, 4-1, in the opening game of a three-game series at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
The win was Forehand’s 500th of his 17-year career as a collegiate coach.
“I told the players, this is pretty cool,” Forehand said. “But all that means is that I have been coaching a long time. I have some players here tonight that played for me when I got my first career win at Trevecca.
“Having them here, and getting all the calls and texts from people is what means the most to me.”
Junior right-hander Brady Puckett cruised through Evansville’s lineup for a complete game and the Bisons hit three home runs to help Coach Forehand reach the milestone.
Forehand won 211 games at Trevecca Nazarene from 2001-2006, before winning 289 over the last 11 seasons at Lipscomb. Coincidently, Forehand’s first win as the Bisons’ skipper also came against Evansville when the Purple and Gold defeated the Purple Aces 5-1 on Feb. 11, 2007.
Puckett was dominant throughout the night and did not surrender a run until the ninth inning. The Murfreesboro native tossed a complete game while giving up just six hits and punching out eight batters.
With the win he tied Brandon McClurg for the most victories all-time by a Bison in the school’s NCAA era with 19. He also tied current Oakland A’s right-hander Josh Smith for the most complete games in that era with seven.
“It’s feels weird to be tied for the most wins, but I take it as a honor,” Puckett said. “I couldn’t do it without the guys behind me. We just go out every day and do our job. Thankfully we were able to come out and get this win for Coach Forehand.”
Zeke Dodson gave Lipscomb (13-8) the lead when he hammered a solo homer over the left field fence in the bottom of the second. Later in the frame, Hunter Hanks drove in Jake Perry with a single up the middle to make it 2-0.
“We got another typical performance from Brady,” Forehand said. “Hopefully that will help carry us into conference action next weekend. It was also good to see Zeke and Jake come alive at the plate with three big home runs. Those carried us offensively tonight.”
In the eighth, Dodson hit his second solo shot of the night to nearly the same spot as his previous bomb. Perry then went back-to-back with an opposite-field shot that landed well beyond the right field wall to give Lipscomb a 4-0 advantage.
“I’ve been working on relaxing and seeing the ball,” Dodson said. “Tonight I went up there trying to hit a good pitch and fortunately I got some good looks.
“I don’t think I have every hit two homeruns in a game before, this is the first time.”
Evansville (7-14) made things interesting with an RBI single in the ninth, but Puckett struck out the final two batters to seal the victory and improve to 3-2 on the season.
The win extends Lipscomb’s win streak to a season best five games. Dodson feels things are moving in the right direction with conference play around the corner.
“We are really starting to come together as a team,” Dodson said. “The lineup and the pitching staff has been awesome these last couple of weeks.
“With all that said, tonight was all about Coach Forehand. It means everything to me to be a part of his history. I tell everybody that Lipscomb is the best place for me and I knew what God had in store for me here. I can’t say enough about him, he is a great coach and an ever better man.”
Around the Horn:
- The victory was Lipscomb’s first against the Purple Aces since Forehand’s first career Lipscomb win in 2007. Evansville leads the all-time series 11-4.
- Dodson recorded his seventh multi-hit performance of the season by going 4-for-4 with a pair of RBI and two home runs. He only had two career homers entering the game.
- Perry registered his fifth multi-hit game of the year, going 3-for-4 with a solo homer.
- Michael Gigliotti saw his 20-game on-base streak come to an end after finishing 0-for-4.
- Friday marked the first time Lipscomb has hit three home runs in a game since its 10-8 victory over Jacksonville in the 2016 ASUN tourney on May 25.
Lipscomb and Evansville will play the second game of the series on Saturday at 11 a.m at Dugan Field. The game was moved up from its original start time of 2 p.m. due to the expectation of storms later in the day. Jeffrey Passantino (1-0, 1.78 ERA) will get the start on the mound as he goes for his second consecutive victory.