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March 04, 2017123456789RHE
Win: Lipscomb (2-0) 3.032224
Loss: NORMAN (0-1) 0.221101
SOLOMON (LIP) 322010
DODSON (LIP) 512100
Todd (AUBURN) 412100
Anthony (AUBURN) 402100
Jarvis (AUBURN) 402100
Baseball collapses late to blow 3-run lead at Auburn
Saturday, March 4, 2017
By Kirk Downs
Baseball collapses late to blow 3-run lead at Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. – The Lipscomb baseball team blew a three-run lead in the eighth inning to drop a 5-4 decision to Auburn Saturday afternoon at Plainsman Park.

Behind an excellent start from junior right-hander Jeffrey Passantino, the Bisons built a 4-1 lead and seemed to be in control. However, the Tigers scored four runs in the frame off three hits and two Lipscomb errors to snatch a victory from the grip of the Bisons.

“Up until that eighth inning I thought we did everything we needed to do in order to get the win,” Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand said. “But things just went sideways in that inning with a couple of walks and a couple of errors - that is hard to overcome.

“What makes it tough to swallow is that’s not how we play. Hats off to Auburn, we put them in a position to score some runs and they capitalized.”

Passantino pitched his third no-decision effort of the season, throwing 95 pitches in 6.0 innings of work. The Fort Myers, Florida native struck out eight batters, issued one walk and only gave up one unearned run.

“This was such a textbook start from Jeff,” Forehand said. “His pitched his butt off and got us in a position to win the game. We just couldn’t finish and I hate it for him.”

After being shutout in Friday’s opener, the Bisons(6-4) jumped on the Tigers in the opening frame. Junior center fielder Michael Gigliotti reached base when Auburn second baseman Jay Estes committed his first error of the season by allowing the ball to roll under his glove. Junior second baseman Lee Solomon got around on the second pitch of his at-bat and pulled it into left field, allowing Gigliotti to reach third. Two batters later first baseman Cade Sorrells singled through the right side of the infield to bring home Gigliotti for his eighth RBI of the season and give Lipscomb a 1-0 lead.

The Bisons added to their run total in the top of the third after Solomon picked up his second base knock of the afternoon on a 1-out single up the middle. Sophomore third baseman Zeke Dodson then pulled a hot shot on the first pitch he saw and rolled the ball into the left field corner for a run-producing double. Solomon got on his horse and scored from first to extend the Lipscomb lead to 2-0.

Auburn was finally able to get on the board in the bottom of the fifth to cut the Lipscomb lead to 2-1. After Passantino quickly recorded the first two outs, Damon Haecker reached on a fielding error by Solomon. Following a walk to Sam Gillikin, outfielder Jonah Todd pushed an RBI-single through the right side before being thrown out trying to reach second.

The Bisons offense added what they thought were two insurance tallies in the top of the eighth. Solomon got things rolling with a leadoff walk before swiping second for his fourth stolen base of the season. Dodson then picked up his second hit of the afternoon on a single up the middle. Sorrells followed with another RBI-single through the right side of the infield, scoring Solomon and moving Dodson to third.

Two batters later left fielder Josh Martinez reached on a fielder’s choice error after the Tigers shortstop could not hang on to the ball when trying to get the force at second, allowing Dodson to score from third to extend the lead to 4-1.

After Passantino was lifted, senior southpaw John Pryor entered in relief and threw a perfect seventh inning before running into trouble in the eighth. Pryor loaded the bases on two walks and a single, and then was removed by fellow senior Denton Norman.

The Tigers (9-2) scored its first run on a groundout before Dylan Ingram picked up an RBI single. With two outs in the inning, Norman tried to pick the runner off at first, but a throw in the dirt got past Sorrells and allowed the tying run to score from third. Luke Jarvis delivered the game-winning single in the next at-bat.

Norman took his first loss of the season after allowing one run on two hits in two-third of an inning. The first three runs of the inning were the first of the season allowed by Pryor. He pitched 1.1 frames, allowing one hit with two walks and a strikeout.

Auburn’s starter Casey Mize struck out nine Bisons in 6.0 innings. He allowed his first runs of the season after pitching 10-scoreless inning to begin 2017.

Cole Lipscomb picked up the win for the Tigers, even after surrendering two runs on three hits in 3.0 innings. He improved to 1-0.

“Auburn is a good team and we played against a good pitcher,” Forehand said. “The beautiful thing about baseball is we get a chance to come out tomorrow and get back on track.


Around the Horn:

  • Lipscomb trails in the all-time series 3-1 after Saturday’s loss.
  • Dodson’s double in the third was his team-leading fourth of the season.
  • After leading the team with 23 multi-hit efforts a season ago, Solomon picked up his first such game of 2017, going 2-for-3.
  • The 1-4 hitters for Lipscomb batted 7-for-17 with three RBI, two walks and four runs. The 5-9 hitters combined to go 1-for-19 with one RBI and 11 strikeouts.
  • Lipscomb left nine men on base compared to five for Auburn.
  • The 13 strikeouts for the Bisons at the plate are the second most of the season, and the fourth time they have reached double-digit punchouts.


Up Next:

Lipscomb and Auburn close out its weekend series with a noon first pitch on Sunday. Sophomore Adam Stewart (1-1, 9.00 ERA) will square off with Auburn’s Davis Daniel (0-0, 7.04 ERA).