Melching Field at Conrad Park will be at the center of what promises to be exciting college baseball all weekend when the Stetson Hatters host the annual Bright House Networks Invitational Tournament.
The event is a round-robin tournament that will feature top teams from three other conferences in addition to the host Hatters. Stetson will play Central Michigan from the Mid-American Conference on Friday night, Ohio State from the Big Ten Conference on Saturday and Connecticut from the Big East Conference on Sunday.
Game times for the three day tournament are set for 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sunday’s games will be played at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
All of the games in the Bright House Networks Tournament will be web cast via Hatter Vision on GoHatters.com.
For the Hatters, the tournament will provide an opportunity to bounce back from early season struggles. The Hatters have played 15 first-year players so far this year, including 12 freshmen. Those totals are among the most in the nation among the 298 Division I baseball programs.
Those young players have already endured struggles in every phase this year. The Hatters have hit just .262 through six games and are averaging just four runs per game. The team has also been charged with 14 errors in the field, but has also made numerous mental mistakes as well.
On the mound, the Hatters have had mixed results. Sophomore starting pitcher Josh Powers has looked good in two outings, and junior Austin Perez has had two very good relief outings, but work from the bullpen have been inconsistent.
The Hatters will have to bring their “A” game this weekend to see improved results.
Stetson will open against the Chippewas of Central Michigan (2-5) on Friday night. CMU opened the year with a four-game series at Louisiana-Lafayette, dropping the first three before taking the series finale 10-2. They followed with a three-game series at Western Kentucky, winning the first game 4-2 before dropping the next two.
Friday night’s game will mark the seventh consecutive season in which the Hatters and Chippewas have met and the series is already scheduled to continue into the future. Stetson owns a 14-5 series lead over CMU and, for the most part, has fared well against teams from both the Mid-American Conference and the state of Michigan. The Hatters own an all-time mark of 41-12 against MAC teams and an almost identical 41-11 mark against Michigan schools.
Stetson senior right-hander Kurt Schluter (0-1, 3.72) will take the mound against CMU on Friday. It will be his fourth career start against the Chippewas, against who he has a 1-0 record with a 2.81 ERA in 16 innings of work. His best performance of the three was during his freshman year when he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning in a one-hit, 1-0 victory.
CMU will counter with sophomore right-hander Jordan Foley (1-0, 0.69). He allowed just two hits with eight strikeouts against WKU in his last outing. He worked two innings in relief against the Hatters last year, allowing three runs on three hits with three walks.
Friday’s action will get started at 1 p.m. when Ohio State (5-2) squares off with Connecticut (3-3). It is the first trip to DeLand for the Buckeyes since the 2001 season. The Huskies have been to DeLand more recently, in 2008.
Ohio State will send junior right-hander Jaron Long (1-0, 3.09) to the mound against the Huskies, who will counter with junior left-hander Anthony Marzi (0-2, 11.05).
On Saturday, Connecticut is scheduled to send sophomore right-hander Carson Cross (1-0, 2.77) to the mound to face Central Michigan senior right-hander Pat Kaminska (0-2, 9.58) in the 1 p.m. game.
Powers (0-1, 2.92) will make his third start of the year on Saturday night against Ohio State, who will counter with senior right-hander Brad Goldberg (2-0, 0.00) when the Hatters and Buckeyes square off at 7 p.m.
Sunday’s opening game will start at 11 a.m. and will pit Buckeyes’ senior left-hander Brian King (1-1, 3.75) against Central Michigan senior left-hander Rick Dodridge (1-1, 1.46). Stetson will send Perez (1-0, 1.69) to the mound for his first start of the year against Connecticut’s junior left-hander Brian Ward (0-1, 2.08). That game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start.
Tickets for the Bright House Networks Invitational are $10 per game for reserved seats and $8 for general admission. Senior citizens and students receive a $2 per ticket discount. For more information on tickets to all Stetson home game, call 386-738-HATS or visit the ticket office page on GoHatters.com.