NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Behind a solid outing from Dayton Tripp and an offensive outburst of 13 hits, the Lipscomb baseball team avoided the weekend sweep by defeating North Florida by a score of 8-1 on Sunday in ASUN Conference action at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium. The win snapped Lipscomb’s four-game losing streak.
“When you get behind the eight-ball like we did the first two games of the series you have to come back with a lot of fire and we did that today,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “Every Sunday it’s hard because this is a long season, but the guys challenged each other to bring the energy level up.”
After struggling against USC Upstate last week, Tripp found his form against the Ospreys. The junior right-hander went 5.1 innings and surrendered just one run while striking out five batters. He got the win and improved to 3-2.
“Dayton came out and did a tremendous job of getting us in a good spot early on,” Forehand said. “Unfortunately he had a bad outing last week, but the remedy is to get back out and pitch again. He really came back today with a bang and gave us some solid innings. I am really proud of that effort.”
Lipscomb (17-14, 3-3 ASUN) pounded out 13 hits, including three apiece from Hunter Hanks and Blake Thomas.
Hanks has been on a tear since regaining a starting spot in the lineup on March 18. The senior has made the transition from shortstop to second base look easy and finished the weekend 7-for-12 with two home runs and six RBI.
“Once I moved back into the lineup, I told myself I didn’t want to come back out,” Hanks said. “I love being in a spot with runners on base because that’s when I try my hardest to come through for the team and with confidence you feel like you can hit any pitch.”
Hanks now has hits in 11 of the last 13 games.
The Bisons got the scoring going with back-to-back RBI singles from Jake Perry and Blake Thomas to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second.
Lipscomb added four runs in the fourth to build a substantial 6-0 advantage. Hunter Hanks lined an RBI single to left and later scored when Tyler Bethune legged out an infield single. Two batters later, Michael Gigliotti doubled up the middle to drive in Thomas and Bethune before Tevin Symonette was thrown out at home trying to score from first.
North Florida (22-13, 4-2 ASUN) scored their lone run on an RBI single from Patrick Ervin in the sixth. The Ospreys managed just four total hits in the contest.
“Baseball is a funny game. North Florida smashed the ball all weekend and then today we hold them to four hits,” Forehand said. “When good teams are playing each other those kind of things are going to happen, no matter if it’s college or professional.”
Hanks gave the Bisons some insurance in the eighth when he bounced an RBI single over the head of UNF third baseman Alex Merritt. Zeke Dodson later scored on balk to give Lipscomb an 8-1 lead and put the Bisons back on track after a tough week on the diamond.
“It’s easy to get down on yourself when you are on a four-game losing streak,” Hanks said. “Fortunately for us a lot of our guys have been around the block, so we just let everyone know this isn’t the end of the world.
“We have plenty of games left to do something special. We just have to keep grinding as a team.”
Senior reliever Denton Norman pitched three scoreless innings to close out the win and pick up his fourth save of the season.
AROUND THE HORN:
- The one run allowed by Lipscomb’s staff was the fewest since holding Evansville to a single tally on March 24. The four hits given up were the second fewest of the season. Lipscomb held Bowling Green to just one hit on February 24.
- Gigliotti and Hanks both extended their on-base streaks to seven games.
- Gigliotti went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI and a double.
- Thomas broke out of a recent slump by going 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
- Nicko Ortega pitched his way around a bases-loaded jam to escape trouble in the sixth. Ortega relieved Tripp and got two UNF batters to fly out to preserve Lipscomb’s lead.
- Perry picked up his team-leading 26th RBI of the season.
- Both Lipscomb and UNF left five runners on base.
- Lipscomb batted .526 (10-19) with runners on base. UNF hit just .100 (1-10).
- With runners in scoring position, the Bisons were 7-for-12 (.583) while UNF was 1-for-6 (.167).
- For the first time all season, Lipscomb has gone two consecutive games without committing an error.
Lipscomb will host Western Kentucky for a midweek tilt on Tuesday. The Bisons beat the Hilltoppers 10-4 on Feb. 28 in Bowling Green. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Dugan Field.