The Stetson baseball team defeated the Canadian Junior National Team by a score of 10-3 on Saturday afternoon at Melching Field in what Head Coach Pete Dunn hopes turns into an annual fall event for the Hatters.
"I think they're going to be down here about this time every year so we hope to do it every year," Dunn said after the game. "We've had some good Canadian players on our teams, and it's a good opportunity for us."
For the first time this fall, the Hatters were able to get some competition against somebody other than themselves. In fact, 26 Stetson players saw action on Saturday, including 11 newcomers to the program.
Both teams used wood bats for the exhibition, a change for Stetson, but it didn't seem to have a negative impact on the Hatters. Stetson scored seven runs in the first two innings, coming out of the gate swinging the wood bats well.
Sophomore Tyler Bocock got the ball rolling in the bottom of the first with a single through the right side, and then came around to score on a triple to right center field by senior Mitchel Brennan. After a hit by pitch and a walk loaded the bases, an error and a two-RBI single by sophomore Garrett Russini made it 4-0 in favor of the Hatters early on.
In the second inning a single by junior K'shawn Smith was sandwiched by a pair of Stetson walks to load the bases early in the frame. RBI sacrifice flies by Brennan and freshman Buck McCarthy, and an RBI single through the infield by freshman Carlos Garmendia pushed Stetson's lead to 7-0 heading into the third.
The Hatters' lead stayed comfortable thanks to their quality pitching inning after inning. Purposefully not using any individual more than one inning in order to get a number of guys time on the mound, the Stetson staff kept Canada shutout through seven innings of action.
"The pitchers threw strikes, and that's a big thing, especially when you go out to a lead like that," Dunn continued. "You want to go out there, throw strikes, and make them swing the bat."
Senior Kurt Schluter started things off with a perfect first inning, striking out one and forcing two ground outs to pick up the win. Junior Austin Perez, sophomore Josh Powers, and junior Cameron Griffin followed suit, giving up just two hits between the three of them to keep Stetson's lead at 7-0.
Redshirt freshman Tyler Warmoth, true freshmen Garrison Banas each came on for one inning on the mound, also combining for two hits, while walking none and striking out four.
The Stetson offense continued to back their pitchers up, scoring another three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 10-0 lead. Singles by freshman Patrick Mazeika and Russini put runners on for senior James Rasmussen, who doubled to left field, driving in a pair of runs. A single to right by freshman Konner Lutz scored Rasmussen for Stetson's 10th and final run of the game.
Canada managed to total three runs over the final two innings to make the final score 10-3 on Saturday. The Hatters finished with 10 runs on 12 hits and one error. Team Canada totaled three runs on seven hits and two errors. Schluter picked up the win, and Canada's Cal Quantrill was credited with the loss.
"It's always good to play outside competition," Dunn concluded. "I was pleased with the effort today. We had a lot of young puppies out there on the mound, defensively, and at the plate. We're not used to swinging wood bats a whole lot and I thought we did a pretty good job."
Stetson will continue fall practice and scrimmages throughout the rest of the month, and then complete the season with the annual Hatters series, which is scheduled for November 8-10 at Melching Field.
Coach Dunn Interview