SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Brady Puckett may not have been at his sharpest, but that did not matter as the Lipscomb baseball team put on an offensive clinic Friday night to punish the home-standing USC Upstate Spartans 19-4 at Harley Park in the ASUN Conference opener for both teams.
“Any time you get a conference win, you win take it no matter if it’s by one run or 19 runs,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “Our offense came alive tonight and that was good to see. We needed this game after the way we played Tuesday against Vanderbilt. This was a very good start to our ASUN season.”
The 6-foot-9 junior tossed six innings of two-run ball to pick up the win and become Lipscomb’s all-time wins leader in the program’s NCAA era with 20 career victories.
“Puckett has worked hard to perform the way he does,” Forehand said. “I say it every week, but we get accustomed to what he gives us with each start. He wasn’t quite as sharp as he normally is, but even then he gives us a chance to win.
“I am proud he is now the all-time wins leader. That seems hard to believe when he is just barley halfway finished with his third season. He goes out and does his job each week and the results show.”
After allowing two runs in the second inning, Puckett settled down and retired the next nine batters to keep the Spartans in check while his Bisons went to work at the plate.
The 19 runs are the third most runs ever scored by Lipscomb in its NCAA era.
Coach Forehand has preached for three seasons that the Bisons offense runs through the top of the order, and when tablesetters Michael Gigliotti and Lee Solomon can get on base a combined 10 times, the Bisons are very hard to beat.
“We know how good our guys are at the top of the order, they are there for a reason,” Forehand said. “It has taken a while for them to get going, but what we saw tonight is what they are capable of every single game.
“When they are on base, our offense really flows. I hope this is an indication of what’s to come.”
Gigliotti got the Bisons (15-10, 1-0 ASUN) going when he opened the game with the first of his three bunt singles on the night. He was one of six players with multiple hits after finishing the game 3-for-4 with three walks and a career-high five runs scored. Solomon put up a 3-for-5 day with three runs, two RBI, a double, a walk and a stolen base.
Lipscomb got 4-RBI efforts from designated hitter Jake Perry and third baseman Zeke Dodson. Perry went 2-for-4 with two walks, two runs a triple and a solo home run in the eighth. Dodson had a 2-for-5 day at the dish with three runs scored, two walks and a double.
Senior backstop Tyler Bethune tied his career high with three hits in the win. He went 3-for-6 with two RBI, a double and a run scored. It’s his second 3-hit performance in 10 days.
Junior shortstop Blake Thomas posted career highs with two walks and three runs driven in. His recorded a big RBI-triple in the third inning that brought the Bisons back level at 2-2.
Sophomore Adam Stewart finished the game for the Bisons on the bump after Forehand lifted Puckett. The righty tossed the final three frames and struck out a season high four batters. He surrendered one earned run on four hits and picked up his first career save.
AROUND THE HORN:
- Lipscomb now leads the all-time series with Upstate 15-10 and have won seven of the last eight meetings. In the last six meetings at Harley Park, the Bisons are 5-1 and have outscored the Spartans 65-19.
- Puckett moved past Brandon McClurg (19) for the most wins all time in Lipscomb’s NCAA era.
- The 19 runs are the most by the Bisons since setting the school’s record with 22 against NJIT on April 30, 2016.
- Trailing 2-1 entering the third frame, Lipscomb scored 16 unanswered runs over the next six innings.
- Gigliotti tied his career high with three bunt singles in the game. His only other occasion came in his second career game against Butler on February 14, 2015.
- Solomon picked up his ninth stolen base of the season, the most in the ASUN.
- Hunter Hanks went 1-for-6, but drove in two RBI on his fifth double of the season.
- Cade Sorrells was the only Bison who did not record a hit (0-for-5). He still scored two runs and drove in his 20th run of the year.
- Von Watson went 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs.
- Perry’s triple was the first of his career.
- Gigliotti and Solomon tied their season highs with the three base knocks.
- Lipscomb left 15 men on base and nine in scoring position. The Bisons loaded the bases four times in the first six innings.
- Upstate left nine men on base.
- The 17 hits are the second most of the season for the Bisons. They had 18 in a win over Middle Tennessee.
- Six different players has multiple hits, multiple runs and multiple RBI for the Bisons.
Lipscomb will look to take the series with Upstate in a 1 p.m. Saturday contest. Junior righty Jeffrey Passantino (1-0, 2.11 ERA) will get the nod for the Bisons and will face off with Kevin Hickey (2-3, 2.97 ERA).
“It’s great to get the win and score as many runs as we did today, but you can’t use them tomorrow,” Forehand said. “We have to get to the room, get some rest and come back out tomorrow and pick up where we left off.
“As frustrating as it was on Tuesday, these are the types of nights where we can’t wait to get back on the field.”