NASHVILLE - Lipscomb vs. Vanderbilt is a game circled every year when the Bison Baseball schedule is announced as the two Nashville clubs go at each other to claim the title of the best in town.
Tuesday, March 24th was supposed to be this season's meeting between the inner-city rivals, but due to the pandemic surrouding the globe and leading to the cancelation of the 2020 season, we wanted to run it back to three of our favorite moments from the series.
April 17, 2007 l Joseph Homers Bisons Past No. 1 Vandy
With just a little over a month remaining in the season, the Bisons had a chance to put a signature win on their schedule as the No. 1 team in the country was coming to Dugan Field for a midweek matchup.
This was set to be the the second meeting of the season between Lipscomb and Vanderbilt with the top-ranked Commodores taking the first game at Hawkins Field, 16-7, in late February.
On this day, Vanderbilt jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after three innings, while the Bisons offense was unable to record the big hit. However, Lipscomb starting pitcher Rob Smithson, settled down from that point on and the righty shut the Commodores out over the next four frames.
The Bisons finally broke through in the sixth, scoring twice to knot the game at 2-2. Sophomore catcher Caleb Joseph led off the inning with a single to left center before Ryan Wilkins followed with a RBI double to left center, driving in Joseph. One out later, Justin Sanders added an RBI double of his own to even the score.
Lipscomb took that momentum and carried it into the seventh to claim the lead on a two-run blast from Joseph over the left field wall. Shane Simpkins, who kept the inning alive with a two-out bunt single, scored on the homer. Later in the inning, Justin Sanders added an RBI single to increase the lead to 5-2.
"I guessed changeup and he threw it," Joseph said of the home run. "It was a good pitch. I just squared up and put a good swing on it, and it went out of the ball park."
Vanderbilt was able to get a run back in the eighth, but sophmore hurler Brandon McClurg shut the door on a comeback as he struck out the Commodore's top hitter and future No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, Pedro Alvaraez, to seal the victory and give the Bisons their first-ever win over a No. 1 ranked team in the program's NCAA era.
April 7, 2015 l Lee and Puckett Lead Baseball Past No. 1 Vandy
Almost eight years to the day later, the Bisons had another opportunity to knock off the top-ranked Commodores just as they did in 2007. But this time Lipscomb would have to do it on Vandy's turf.
The Purple and Gold were led by the duo of Josh Lee and Brady Puckett. Lee, who was recruited to and played in three games at Vandy as a freshman before transferring to Central Arizona Community College in 2013 and then Lipscomb a year later, did his damage at the plate with RBIs in the first and sixth innings before landing the knockout blow in the eighth.
Meanwhile, freshman Brady Puckett was dealing on the mound. The 6-foot-8 righty kept the heavy-hitting Vanderbilt lineup off-balance and did not allow a base runner past second until the eighth frame. Puckett tossed 7.1 innings and limited the 'Dores to thier lowest run total in 29 games, allowing just one run on five hits while striking out a career-high six batters.
Behind the performances of Lee and Puckett, Lipscomb went on to win the game, 3-1, for its second victory over the No. 1 ranked team in the programs NCAA era. It was also just the second time in program history the Bisons came away victorious at Hawkins Field.
“This was one of those games that was well played on both ends,” Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand said. “Brady was outstanding on the mound. He is just a freshman and he is starting to learn more and more with each start. We feel like he can do this every time he steps on the mound. It was a lot of fun for us to watch tonight.
“Josh had a great night,” Forehand continued. “He enjoyed his time here at Vanderbilt, but it just didn’t work out for him and we are glad he is now at Lipscomb. I am sure he had some fun coming back and facing his former team, a little motivation.”
March 27, 2018 l Bisons Top No. 8 Vanderbilt Behind Combined One-Hitter
After a three year drought since their last win over Vanderbilt, the Bisons were finally able to return the favor as they took down the No. 8 ranked Commodores, 5-1, at First Tennessee Park in 2018.
The Bisons used dominant pitching and timely hitting to end the skid. Four Bison pitchers combined to toss nine innings of one-hit baseball while striking out 10 Commodore batters. A homer from Zeke Dodson and a 3-run triple from Cade Sorrells provided all the offense the Bisons would need.
After the first three innings went scoreless, Vanderbilt broke the tie when Julian Infante brought home Walker Grisanti with a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth. However, Lipscomb answered right back with Dodson’s bomb to left in the bottom of the frame.
In the fifth, the Bisons blew the game open on Sorrells’ triple to the gap in right-center, allowing Blake Thomas, Jackson Furstace and Maddux Houghton to plate. Dodson then drove in Sorrells with a sacrifice fly making it a 5-1 ballgame.
Lipscomb hurler Kyle Kemp was tabbed for his first start of the season and had some ups and downs. While the junior did not allow a hit, he did issue seven walks in four innings, but Kemp managed to work his way out of most of the damage while allowing just the single tally.
From there, the Bison bullpen took over. Junior Alex Dorso tossed a pair of scoreless frames, before giving way to Nicko Ortega, who struck out four hitters in two more scoreless stanzas. Robbie Knox then closed it out with a spotless ninth, giving the Bisons a big victory in the series.
"What an awesome game from our bunch," Lipscomb skipper Jeff Forehand said. "This was a big win for us and for our confidence. Everyone knows the caliber of team we are playing, they are one of the best teams in the country, so when you do come out on top it gives your team a boost."