Stetson senior closer Robbie Powell came into the Hatters’ game against Belmont on Wednesday night with a chance to break the Atlantic Sun Conference season record for saves.
Instead, Powell allowed a single, committed an error, walked a batter and allowed a sacrifice fly to send the game into extra innings tied at 3-3. Six innings later, Powell surrendered a single through a five-man infield to Belmont’s Judah Akers as the Bruins took a 4-3 victory.
Stetson will be back in action in less than 12 hours when the Hatters face USC Upstate at 11 a.m. in an elimination game.
The Hatters loss capped a day in which the lower seeded teams won two of the three opening round games on the first day of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. Mercer started the day with an 11-2 victory over Upstate and Florida Gulf Coast followed suit with a 12-4 victory over Kennesaw State.
Stetson had a chance to join in on the upset parade when Mitchel Brennan delivered a two-out single in the eighth inning, scoring Ben Carhart from second. The Hatters, playing as the visiting team on their home field, had a chance to add insurance runs in the ninth, but left the bases loaded.
Powell, who suffered his second blown save in his last two opportunities, allowed Akers to reach on a single up the middle to start the Belmont ninth. Alec Diamond then put down a sacrifice bunt, but Powell’s throw to first pulled Brennan off the bag. After a strikeout, Powell walked Jamie Ritchie to load the bases before Jared Breen delivered a sacrifice fly to tie the game.
After getting out of the inning with another strikeout, Powell retired 12 straight, and 16 of the next 18, allowing only a pair of two out singles.
That changed in the 15th when Drew Turner led off with a single and, like in the ninth, moved up on a sacrifice bunt that Powell threw wildly to first base. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, Tucker Donahue came in for the Hatters, and Akers greeted him with a game-winning single.
Josh Davis (7-1) got the win for the Bruins (36-21), who will take on Kennesaw State in the 3 p.m. game on Thursday. Powell (1-1) took the loss for the Hatters (34-22).
Five Stetson pitchers combined to throw 201 pitches in the game. Starter Kurt Schluter worked six innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He was followed by Josh Powers and Cameron Griffin before Powell came on in the ninth.
All 11 Stetson hits in the game were singles. Carhart, Robert Crews and Spencer Theisen had two hits each. Belmont had one extra-base hit, an RBI double by Zac Mitchell in the sixth inning, among its 10 hits. Akers accounted for three hits for the Bruins.