NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb baseball team has been up and down in the early going of the 2018 season. A rash of injuries, fielding errors and mound struggles left the Bisons with a 6-7 record entering this weekend’s series with Michigan.
However, Lipscomb showed signs of life with an attempted comeback in a 16-11 slugfest loss on Friday, before topping Michigan, 7-4, on Saturday at Ken Dugan Field.
Behind a three-inning save from Kyle Kemp on Sunday, Lipscomb (8-8) downed the Wolverines 4-2, taking the series victory over its storied Power 5 opponent.
“Everyone knows Michigan, and a series win over anyone in college baseball is great,” Lipscomb coach Jeff Forehand said. “We corrected the mistakes from Friday and bounced back with big wins yesterday and today.”
Junior Zeke Dodson led the Bisons with a pair of RBI, including a run-scoring base knock in the fourth inning. He also had a sacrifice fly in the third inning that plated Blake Thomas in what was a three-run frame for Lipscomb.
“(Dodson) has been moving the ball and he got a couple of bloopers today,” Forehand said. “He’s hitting the ball well and driving in runs, and that’s what we expect from him.”
Freshman Carson Wright scored on a wild pitch and senior catcher Jeffery Crisan lined an RBI double through the left side to complete Lipscomb’s three-spot in the third.
Michigan (4-10) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first thanks to an RBI double from Brock Kenner, who later scored on a single by Hector Gutierrez.
From there, Lipscomb’s pitching staff slammed the door on the Wolverines. Bisons starter Noah Thompson recovered from his early struggles and went 4.2 innings, before being relieved by Nicko Ortega, who tossed 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball.
“The story of this weekend was the pitching staff, they really did a great job,” Forehand said. “(Thompson’s) keeps putting us in position to win. That’s all we can ask from our starter”.
Kemp, a former starting hurler, showed no signs of slowing down in the extended-save situation, but the game wasn’t without its drama in the ninth. The Wolverines loaded the bases with two outs in the frame, before Kemp induced a flyout from Michigan’s Ako Thomas to seal the victory.
“I haven’t done that in a while, but my job is to pitch in the ninth inning,” Kemp said of going three frames. “(The pitchers) all have the same mindset, and that’s to win. We wanted to turn the tide from what’s happened in the beginning of the season.”
The save was Kemp’s fourth of the season, and while the senior said he was happy to win, he also pointed out the larger importance of Sunday’s victory.
“The winning part is good, but I think this team also needed to learn what it felt like to lose,” Kemp said. "The way we did that was so unacceptable (earlier in the season). We’re dealing with injuries and plugging guys in, so the next-man-up mentality is what we’re going with as a team.”
Around the Horn:
- Wright’s double in the third inning was his first collegiate hit.
- Dodson went 2-for-2 with 2 RBI to improve his average to .421
- The hot-hitting Crisan went 1-for-4 with a RBI on Sunday, and he saw his average dip slightly to .459.
- Kemp struck out three batters in his three innings of work, lowering his season ERA to 1.00.
- Time of game was 2:41 with 177 fans in attendance.
The Bisons will meet Belmont for another edition of the Battle of the Boulevard on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. at E.S. Rose Park.
“We’ve got to keep the momentum going and the offense rolling,” Forehand said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what’s coming next for this team.”