DELAND, Fla. – After jumping out to an early two-run lead, the Lipscomb baseball team was unable to hold off the top-seeded Jacksonville Dolphins in the opening game of the ASUN Championship that saw nearly 10 hours pass between the game’s first pitch and its last.
After taking a 3-2 lead into the fifth inning before the unfriendly Florida weather reared its ugly head and sent the game into a six-and-a-half hour delay, Jacksonville added to its total late and sent the sixth-seeded Bisons to the losers bracket with an 8-2 victory Wednesday night at Melching Field.
“This was such an odd game,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “We got some good pitching from Jeffrey Passantino to begin the game, but unfortunately for us the weather forced us to make a change.
“Late in the game we made some good defensive plays to keep the game close, but we just could never find a way to push some runs across, even with the bases loaded. Give Jacksonville credit, they did a good job of limiting our threat.”
Lipscomb (27-27) pounced on the Dolphins early with two runs in the top of the second inning. Hunter Hanks got the frame started with a double into the right center gap. Jake Perry then, after falling behind in the count, reached after getting hit by a pitch. Allan Hooker then put down a sacrifice bunt that allowed both runners to move into scoring position.
Jeffrey Crisan brought home Hanks for ice breaker with a single into right field. Blake Thomas doubled the lead when he beat out a double play ball to short to keep the frame alive, allowing Perry to score.
The Dolphins (34-22) responded with three runs in the home half of the frame. After a quick strikeout to open the inning, JU strung together three straight singles, including RBI knocks from Evan Fernandez and Ruben Someillan.
Two batters later All-ASUN first teamer Nathan Koslowski singled through the left side to give JU control of the game, 3-2. The Dolphins never relinquished the lead.
Following a leadoff single from Lipscomb’s Blake Thomas in the top of the fifth, lightning struck in the area and a delay immediately followed, beginning at 11:28. After the teams waited around for a break in the weather that never came, a decision was made to pick the game back up at 6 p.m., so both teams went back to their respective hotels.
When play finally resumed, Sam Armstrong extended Jacksonville’s lead in the bottom of the fifth to 4-2 with a solo homer off the scoreboard in left field.
In the eighth inning the Dolphins took advantage of three Lipscomb walks and a fielding error in the outfield to score four runs and put the game out of reach.
Jeffrey Passantino took the hill for the Bisons and pitched four innings before the weather delay ended his outing. JU touched the junior for three runs on eight hits. Passantino struck out two and did not walk anyone. He fell to 4-3 with the loss.
Senior southpaw John Pryor took over on the bump when play resumed and tossed the remainder of the game. He scattered five runs and allowed five runs, only two of which were earned, while striking out two and walking three.
AROUND THE HORN:
- The Bisons have now dropped four straight games to Jacksonville, all coming in 2017.
- Lipscomb left nine men on base. JU left seven.
- The Bisons were only 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, while the Dolphins were 3-for-10.
- Blake Thomas stole two bases on the loss, giving Lipscomb 110 thefts this season. Thomas is third on the team in swipes, now a perfect 15-for-15.
- Michael Gigliotti extended his on-base streak to 30 games.
- Gigliotti and Zeke Dodson were the only two Bisons with multiple hits. Gigliotti was 2-for-5 with three strikeouts, while Dodson was 2-for-4 with his 12th double of the year.
- Hanks recorded his 11th double of the year.
Lipscomb will now play in the first elimination game of the tournament, tentatively scheduled for 12:15 p.m. on Thursday. They will await the loser of No. 2 Stetson and No. 5 Kennesaw State, who will get the day started with a 9 a.m. contest.
“Now we have to come back tomorrow and win the game inning by inning,” Forehand said. “If we are unable to find a way, then our season will be over and we head back to Nashville. I am looking forward to the challenge.”