|Hatters Rally Late to 10-2 Win Over UNF|
Jacksonville, Fla. – Stetson and North Florida battled for seven innings in a classic pitchers duel Friday night at Harmon Stadium on the UNF campus before the Hatters finally broke the game open late for a 10-2 series opening win.
The win was the fifth in a row for the Hatters, matching the teams’ longest win streak of the year. Stetson, which also owns a five-game win streak over UNF, improved to 28-13 overall and 10-6 in Atlantic Sun Conference play. The Ospreys slip to 24-17 overall and 6-10 in league play.
The Hatters got offensive production from both likely, and unlikely, sources during an 18-hit performance. The likely came in the form of four hits, including a pair of doubles, from Sam Kimmel, three hits each from Robert Crews and Mark Jones, and two hits from Ben Carhart.
The unlikely came from starting pitcher Kurt Schluter, who had two hits after moving to first base in the seventh inning, and closer Robbie Powell, who doubled in a pair of runs in the Hatters’ five-run ninth inning.
“I wouldn’t say this was an ugly win, but it was an odd-ball, unusual, win,” Hatters coach Pete Dunn said. “I thought we swung the bats extremely well, we certainly pitched well. It wasn’t ugly, but it was unusual. In the ninth inning I looked out there and our starting pitcher was standing on second base and our closer was on at third.”
All of the offensive opportunities for the Stetson pitchers came after Schluter stayed in the game at first base, costing the Hatters their designated hitter. On the mound, the junior gave a second straight strong performance, allowing two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts over six and a third innings.
He left the game with a 2-1 lead, but UNF tied it in the seventh when Joe Wielbruda singled off Jake Boyd (4-0) to drive in Michael Wesner, who opened the frame with a single off Schluter.
After Stetson scored three times in the eighth, the first off Ospreys’ starter Michael Renner (3-5), Powell came on to pitch the final two frames. When his turn to bat came up in the ninth, the senior ripped a two-run double into the left-centerfield gap.
“He may be looking for more at bats, but that is it,” Dunn said of his closer’s late hit. “Schluter gave us another quality start and the bull pen came in and held them. Robbie had me worried when he went out there with a 5-2 lead and walked the first two batters he faced, but he settled down and pitched his way out of it.”
Powell got out of the jam by posting three consecutive strikeouts, a streak he ran to five to open the ninth inning. Despite earning his 12th save of the year, one in each of Stetson’s five-game win streak, he was more interested in talking about his hitting.
“The mound was completely different from any I have been on this year,” Powell said. “Once I made an adjustment to that, I focused on getting on top of the ball and driving to the mitt. I used to hit in high school and was a decent hitter. I just wanted to swing as hard as I could and I got a little curveball and I punished them a little bit. Everyone gave me the silent treatment when I got back to the dugout.”
Before the late-inning fireworks, the Hatters scored single runs in the third and sixth. Kimmel doubled in Crews for the first run of the game and Mitchel Brennan delivered a sacrifice fly to score Kimmel in the sixth.
In the eighth the Hatters got a run on a double by Jones, who extended his hitting streak to 15 games, another on a sacrifice fly by James Rasmussen, and the third on the first of Schluter’s two hits.
Jones had a two-run double in the ninth to break the game open before Powell followed with his two-run double before scoring on a throwing error.
UNF got its first run in the fourth inning on a solo homer by Tyler Marincov.
Stetson will try to extend its win streak to six games on Saturday when they face UNF at 1 p.m. in the second game of the series.