NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After picking up victories in the first two games of the weekend series, the Lipscomb baseball team was unable to earn its first sweep of the season with a 2-0 loss to USC Upstate in ASUN Conference action Sunday afternoon at Ken Dugan Field.
The defeat dropped the Bisons to 18-24 overall and 6-9 in league play, while the Spartans improved to 22-24-1 and 5-10.
“That was a good baseball games on both ends,” Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand said. “We were able to hit some balls hard early on, but their guys was tough. He settled in and pitched a great game.”
The finale featured impressive starting pitching from both sides, as junior right-hander Kyle Kemp tossed five shutout frames while ringing up a career high seven strikeouts for Lipscomb.
“Kyle pitched a great game, especially on short notice,” Forehand said. “He’s been one of our guys we got to whether he’s starting or coming out of the bullpen. He was sharp today.”
In the end, however, it was Upstate’s Blake Whitney who tossed a complete-game shutout with eight strikeouts for the win. He improved to 5-1 on the season.
The Bisons had numerous chances early in the game to scratch a run across, but each time they came up empty. After stranding a runner at second in the second inning, the Purple and Gold suffered inning-ending punchouts in the third and fourth to leave a pair of runners just 90 feet from home.
Those missed opportunities came knocking in the top of the seventh when the Spartans managed to finally get the game’s first run.
Following a leadoff single and a balk, Lipscomb’s Alex Dorso was lifted with one out in the frame for Erik Gutierrez. Upstate took advantage on Gutierrez’s first pitch and Mason Stewart singled through the left side between an infield playing in, allowing Russel Schwertfeger to score from third to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
“I told the guys, they had a runner on third and got the run in. We had runners at third and didn’t, that’s the difference in the game,” Forehand said. “We are usually a good situational hitting team, but today we just couldn’t strike.”
Austin Morgan gave the Spartans an insurance tally in the ninth with a RBI single through the left side to get to the 2-0 score.
AROUND THE HORN
- The three base hits tie a season low for the Bisons.
- Freshman Maddux Houghton continues to rake from the plate. He went 2-for-4 Sunday with a double, his ninth of the season.
- Houghton has now totaled five doubles in his last five games, while raising his batting average by 40 points to .280 over his last seven outings.
- Jake Perry recorded the only other base knock for Lipscomb Sunday. He and Houghton lead the team with an 8-game hitting streak.
- Nicko Ortega and Robbie Knox also made appearances out of the bullpen for the Bisons, each throwing one inning. Ortega struck out one, while Knox gave up one run on three hits and a punchout. It was Knox’s team-leading 24th appearance of the season.
- Senior backstop Jeffrey Crisan gunned down his 11th would-be base stealer of the season.
- Time of game was 2 hours and 20 minutes in front of 277 fans in attendance.
Lipscomb gets a midweek break with the student-athletes taking final exams. They will be in action next weekend when the Bisons host Southeast Missouri for three games.
Friday’s game at 6 p.m. will see Coach Forehand and the Bisons announce their annual Ken Dugan Awards winner in a brief ceremony before first pitch. On Saturday, the Bisons will then honor their senior class before the 6 p.m. start. Sunday’s finale is set for 1 p.m.
“It’s a cool weekend for our program,” Forehand said. “It’s a lot of fun with the Dugan Award and our seniors being honored. We get a chance to catch our breath with an out of conference series, but we want our guys to focus on their studying and doing well on finals.”