JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After stumbling in the opening game of the ASUN Championship, Lipscomb’s bats awoke with a roar Thursday afternoon as the No. 5 Bisons mashed their way to a 10-5 victory against No. 6 NJIT in an elimination game at Harmon Stadium.
“This was a good win for our club,” Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. “Things were pretty wild in the first couple of innings, and I thought we were pretty fortunate to be where we were. We made some nice plays to get out of some big jams and then our offense got rolling. The most important thing is we won and we are still playing baseball.”
The win keeps the season alive for the Purple and Gold. They will now play No. 4 North Florida at 2:00 p.m. on Friday.
Lipscomb (24-29) collected 14 hits against four NJIT pitchers, including three doubles and three home runs. Every Bison starter registered at least one hit with five players getting two.
Cade Sorrells produced a team high four RBI, followed by a pair from Lee Solomon and Josh Martinez as the Bisons improved to 9-1 all-time against the Highlanders.
Lipscomb right-hander Robbie Knox got the first start of his career after expected starter Noah Thompson was scratched before first pitch. The junior allowed three runs on 11 hits over 5.0 innings with two walks and 85 pitches. He improved to 4-5 on the year with the victory. Kyle Kemp came on in relief in the sixth and lasted just two-thirds of an inning after allowing four of six batters to reach. He was lifted for Alex Dorso after issuing a bases-loaded walk.
Dorso was fantastic out of the pen as he earned his first save of the season after working the final 3.1 frames. Facing 11 batters, his only blemish was a leadoff homer in the top of the ninth. He struck out four batters and tossed just 36 pitches.
After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first, Sorrells and Crisan went back-to-back in a span of four pitches to give the Bisons a 3-1 advantage. Sorrells’ bomb was a 2-run shot down the line the right field line that also brought Lee Solomon around following a leadoff single. Crisan’s long ball was his eighth of the season, and his third in as many games.
“I don’t think anyone would coin us a long ball team, but we are having some great at-bats right now,” Forehand said. “All of our guys are grinding out tougher at-bats than we were earlier in the season and the culmination has been a lot of home runs. Hopefully we can keep that going tomorrow.”
The Highlanders battled back to even the score at 3-3 courtesy of Justin Etts’ 2-run single in the top of the second, as neither staff was able to keep the other off the board. The Bisons returned the favor in the bottom half when Solomon got in on the home run parade with a 2-run crank off the scoreboard in left, giving Lipscomb a 5-3 lead after a wild two innings.
The teams finally settled in and hung zeroes on the board over the next three frames before NJIT got a bases-loaded walk in the sixth. From there Lipscomb put the game out of reach with three runs on three hits and a NJIT miscue in the home half of the inning. Martinez and Symonette ripped back-to-back RBI singles and Sorrells sacrificed a run home with a bunt back to the pitcher.
Lipscomb added a single run in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly to left field by Martinez and tacked on its final tally in the eighth on a sacrifice fly to center by Sorrells, extending the lead to 10-4.
NJIT’s final run of the contest came off the bat of All-ASUN and All-Freshman member Julio Marcano when he blasted a solo leadoff shot to left in the top of the ninth.
AROUND THE HORN:
- Lipscomb’s three long balls pushes their season total to an ASUN-leading 45. It’s the third most for the Bisons in the NCAA era. They hit 48 in 2008 and 59 in 2010.
- The Bisons have hit a home run in 14 of their last 17 games, including multiple bombs in three straight.
- Crisan and Solomon are tied for third in the conference with eight dingers. Jake Perry, who hit his seventh on Wednesday, is tied for fifth. FGCU is the only other school with multiple players in the top eight HR hitters of the ASUN.
- Sorrells’ four RBI is his most this season and it ties his career high, which he has now done three times. The last time he drove in four also came against NJIT on April 22, 2017.
- Lipscomb and NJIT each recorded 14 hits apiece. It matches a season best for the Bisons, they also hit 14 at Middle Tennessee on April 17.
- After scoring double figures only five times entering last weekend, they have now achieved the feat in three of their last five contests.
- The Bisons left five men on base, while the Highlanders stranded 10.
- Lipscomb was 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
- Solomon stole his 15th base of the year in the victory. Maddux Houghton swiped his 10th, giving Lipscomb four players with double-digit steals.