|May 25, 2017||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Win: PUCKETT (8-6)||6.0||8||6||5||2||4|
|Loss: Jack Perkins (7-5)||1.1||5||4||0||0||1|
|Mike Spooner (STET)||5||1||2||0||0||0|
|Colton Lightner (STET)||4||2||2||2||0||1|
DELAND, Fla. – In an ASUN Championship elimination game that saw the teams trade four lead changes, it was Michael Gigliotti and his Lipscomb Bisons who finished on top to keep their season alive.
The Bisons (28-27) entered the day with their backs against the wall after falling to top-seeded Jacksonville in the tournament’s opening game on Wednesday, but behind a career high 5-RBI effort from Gigliotti, the Purple and Gold powered past No. 2 Stetson 8-6 Thursday afternoon in front of the Hatters home crowd at Melching Field.
“When your back is against the wall, it brings out the best in people,” Gigliotti said. “With our group of guys a lot of them strive in those situations. It was good to see us come out fighting.
“The intense, back-and-forth style of the game is really what we needed. We showed we aren’t read to go home. We aren’t going home for a while.”
With the victory, Lipscomb advances to play in a 2 p.m. game on Friday against an opponent to be determined later today. Stetson closes the book on its season with the loss.
“We thought runs would be at a premium today with those two guys throwing on the hill, but if you had told me it would be an 8-6 game, I would not have believed you,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand. “Overall I was pumped to see our guys to battle back like they did after they went down.
“They knew if we lost, our season was over so I think that sense of urgency kicked in and carried through. What a great team win.”
The home-standing Hatters, who were playing in their second game of the day after losing to No. 5 Kennesaw State 10-5 earlier in the afternoon, struck first in the bottom of the opening frame off a 2-RBI single from Jorge Arenas.
In the top of the second frame Lipscomb responded with three runs to grab a 3-2 lead. With two outs on the board, Blake Thomas singled and Allan Hooker drew a walk to get things rolling. Jeffrey Crisan drove in Thomas with a soft liner into left field before Gigliotti looped a 2-RBI single into shallow center to give the Bisons control.
“Michael had a really, really good game today,” Forehand said. “With everything he did at the plate, we kind of forget about the diving catch he made there in the late innings. We take those plays for granted sometimes because it seems like he makes one of those catches in every single game. That just shows how much of a lock-down defensive player he is, it’s special.”
Lipscomb added to its lead in the top of the fourth when Crisan knocked in his second run of the afternoon on a sac fly to center, extending the lead to 4-2.
In the bottom of the inning it was Stetson’s turn as the Hatters strung together a trio of singles to regain the lead at 5-4 following a 2-RBI single from Andrew MacNeil.
The two-out magic continued for Lipscomb in the sixth when Gigliotti destroyed an 0-2 pitch and sent it over the 375-foot sign in right center for a 3-run bomb. Thomas and Hooker scored after reaching on a single and an error.
“After my first fly ball earlier in the game didn’t get out, I didn’t think any ball would get over the fence,” Gigliotti said. “I just got a good pitch to handle and put all I had into it.”
Energized by the homer, Lee Solomon and Cade Sorrells followed with back-to-back singles before Zeke Dodson ripped an RBI-single through the left side to give the Bisons an 8-5 lead.
On the mound it was a duel of the last two ASUN Pitcher of the Year winners as Brady Puckett battled Stetson’s Logan Gilbert. Neither hurler was sharp, but it was former who got picked up by his offense.
Puckett worked 6.0 innings, while giving up five earned runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and two walks. He improved his record to 8-6 with the win.
Even though Jack Perkins took the loss for Stetson, it was the undefeated Gilbert whom the Bisons did most of their damage off of. Gilbert allowed four runs on five hits in 4.2 innings before being lifted for Perkins.
The reliever worked 1.1 frames and allowed four unearned runs on five hits. He fell to 7-5.
Senior Denton Norman relieved Puckett and pitched the final three stanzas to earn his seventh save of the year. He only allowed one base runner and struck out three.
“We tried to limit Denton throughout the last week or so because we would be needing him come tournament time,” Forehand said. “He was very sharp today and gave us the solid performance we needed to close Stetson down.”
AROUND THE HORN:
- Gigliotti extended his on-base streak to 31 games, the second longest streak of his career.
- The Bisons got hits from six different players, including five with multiple knocks (Gigliotti, Sorrells, Dodson, Thomas, Crisan).
- Crisan finished 2-for-4 with two RBI, his fifth multiple-RBI game of the year.
- Dodson picked up his team-leading 16th game of the year with multi-hits.
- Thomas scored a game-high three runs, while Hooker crossed the dish twice.
- Dodson notched his 13th double of the year.
- Thomas stole another bag, making him 16-for-16 in his first season as a Bison.
- Lipscomb left 10 men on base, while Stetson stranded six.
- Gilbert’s 4.2 innings pitched tied his shortest out of the season as a starter. The four runs allowed were the most Gilbert had given up since March 28 when he gave up five at Tulane.
The Bisons will now play at 2 p.m. on Friday. Depending on which bracket comes into play, they would face either the loser of the Kennesaw State and FGCU game or North Florida, if the Ospreys can knock off Jacksonville.
“I just kept thinking I had to come through for our team, because if we didn’t, then it could have been the end of our season,” Gigliotti said. “I want to lead this team past this tournament, we have bigger plans in store. We are all brothers and it’s special to be around.”