NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With ASUN Conference play set to get under way this coming weekend, the Lipscomb baseball team gets one final tuneup on Tuesday in what may be its toughest test to date.
Lipscomb heads downtown to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores at 6:30 p.m. inside First Tennessee Park, the home of the Nashville Sounds. It will be the first-ever neutral site meeting between the schools.
Tickets are $15 for the game against the 2014 NCAA national champions. Get your seats now through the Sounds’ box office, online by CLICKING HERE or by calling 615-690-4487, ext. 2. The Bisons dugout will be on the first-base side of the field.
The squads have met on 22 occasions, with Vanderbilt holding a 19-3 edge in the series. The Commodores have won 10 of the last 11 meetings, including two straight.
The Bisons did knock off the top-ranked Commodores 3-1 in a midweek meeting in 2015 behind a gem from Brady Puckett. Last season at Hawkins Field, the Bisons stranded the game-tying run at third base to end a late comeback in a 4-3 loss to the No. 2 Dores.
Lipscomb enters the contest 14-9 overall after having its season-best six-game win streak snapped in a 10-5 loss to Evansville on Sunday.
John Pryor will be making his first start of the season on the bump after seeing 12 appearances out of the bullpen. The southpaw has not allowed a run in his last six outings, and only allowed a base hit in one of those six. He is holding opponents to a team-low .154 batting average.
He did pitch 2.1 scoreless innings against Vanderbilt in 2016, allowing just one hit while striking out four and walking none.
There will be no live broadcast of the game, but live stats will be available HERE.
Lipscomb – John Pryor – (1-0, 3.14 ERA, 14.1 IP, 5 ER, 12 K, 6 BB)
Vanderbilt – Chandler Day – (3-0, 5.19 ERA, 17.1 IP, 10 ER, 20 K, 8 BB)
The Dores enter Tuesday 16-9 overall and 3-3 in Southeastern Conference action. When the 2017 season opened up, Vanderbilt was tabbed No. 7 in the nation, but a slow start saw the Commodores fall out of the Top 25 in a majority of the national polls. After beginning the campaign 6-5 with back-to-back series losses to Illinois-Chicago and Cal State Northridge, Vanderbilt has seemed to right the ship for the time being, going 10-4 since.
Vanderbilt dropped 2-of-3 on the road at No. 16 Ole Miss to open SEC play, but bounced back over the weekend to win the series with No. 23 Texas A&M in Nashville.
Offensively this is not the same Vanderbilt team we are accustomed to seeing the last few years, but they have still shown a patient approach at the plate by drawing 149 walks, the third most in the nation. They are batting .275 with 23 home runs, 76 extra-base hits and 23 stolen bases.
Sophomore infielder Julian Infante leads the squad with a .351 batting clip and seven doubles, and may be the ‘Dore who is most eager for Tuesday’s tilt.
Last Wednesday against Belmont at First Tennessee Park, Infante set career highs with four base hits and four runs scored. He also added three RBI and his third home run of the season.
Junior outfielder and projected top-5 pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Jeren Kendall has quietly begun finding his groove as of late. He is tops on the team with seven homers, 27 runs scored, three triples and eight steals, while his 22 RBI and .324 average are second best. He closed the series with A&M 7-for-14 with four runs, six RBI and two home runs – including a grand slam in Friday’s opener. Kendall has multiple hits in six straight games.
Will Toffey is the team’s leading RBI man with 28 runs driven in on 28 hits. He is batting .311 with 22 runs, four long balls, five steals and currently leads the team with 24 walks and a .458 on-base percentage.
Sophomore right-hander Chandler Day will make his fifth start of the season Tuesday. He is tied for the second most wins on the year at 3-0, and is allowing opponents to bat .271.
He got the win over Belmont last midweek after allowing four runs on three walks and six hits over four innings. He struck out a career best eight batters over five frames in a win over Central Arkansas earlier in the month.
The Commodores pitching staff has a combined 3.20 ERA with 235 strikeouts and 88 walks in 225 innings.
AROUND THE HORN:
- Lipscomb’s 32 stolen bases and its .821 success rate are tops in the ASUN. The Bisons have swiped 15 bases in their last six games, matching the total they had in their previous 16 combined. They stole a season high six bags on Saturday against Evansville, the most in a game since taking eight against Mississippi Valley State on March 24, 2016.
- Since the beginning of the 2015 season, the Bisons are a combined 58-26 at home and 23-25 on the road.
- Michael Gigliotti lost his 20-game on-base streak Friday, but has still reached in every other game this season. For his career, Gigliotti has only failed to reach first in 10-of-132 career games.
- All 11 home runs and six triples for Lipscomb this season have come at the friendly confines of Dugan Field. The Bisons are averaging just 2.4 extra-base hits on the road.
- Gigliotti and Lee Solomon are the top two base stealers in the conference with eight apiece.
- Senior reliever Denton Norman is 15th in the nation with 14 appearances on the mound in 2017. He has a team best three saves to go along with two wins.
- Gigliotti needs just one triple to become the school’s all-time leader in three-baggers. He currently has eight for his career. The junior outfielder is fourth all-time in steals (40) and walks (78) and ranks fifth in runs scored (126).
- The Bisons have turned 15 double plays this season, the second most in the ASUN. Solomon has participated in 11.
- Since taking over at shortstop full time on March 8, Blake Thomas is second on the team among regular starters in batting average (.333), hits (14) and doubles (3). In that time he has posted a team best 12 runs and five stolen bases.
- Hunter Hanks has been on a tear since moving to second base. The senior is riding a season high five-game hit streak and on-base streak. In those five games the Bisons are 4-1 while Hanks has posted a team high .500 batting average with nine hits in 18 at-bats. He has added six RBI, four runs, three doubles and a triple to go along with two 3-hit performances.
- Cade Sorrells has been the best hitter all season long for the Bisons. He is tied with Thomas for a team high .333 average. The lefty first baseman is tops on the team with 28 hits, a .456 OBP and seven multi-hit games. With 19 RBI, he trails only Jake Perry (20). Sorrells has reached base in 21 of Lipscomb’s 23 games.
- Pryor’s last start on the mound came nearly one year ago on the road at Dallas Baptist on April 1, 2016. He lasted just 3.1 innings after being tagged for six earned runs on five hits and three walks.
- Zeke Dodson is riding a team-best 7-game hit streak into the matchup. He and Solomon also have a team high 8-game on-base streak.
- Tuesday will be Lipscomb's first ever game at First Tennessee Park while it will be Vanderbilt's third. The Commodores have played Belmont there in each of the last two seasons.
- Coach Forehand picked up career win No. 500 on Friday with a 4-1 victory over Evansville.
Lipscomb heads to The Palmetto State for its conference opener with USC Upstate this weekend. The opener at Harley Park is set for 5 p.m. Friday, followed by a 1 p.m. first pitch Saturday and a noon start time on Sunday. All three games will be on ESPN3.