"We just didn't do our job out of the bullpen", said Stetson head coach Pete Dunn. "We fought our way back into the game and then just imploded. It's disappointing because I thought our kids played a lot better game than a 9-4 game."
Coming into the game the Hatters knew they had a challenge ahead with the league's Pitcher of the Year Chris Sale on the mound for the Eagles. For the second time this season the Stetson coaching staff put a solid game plan in place and the team executed well enough to defeat the likely first round draft choice, yet could not close the deal.
Sale left after seven innings with a 5-2 lead. The Hatters immediately jumped on reliever Jacob Barnes for two runs in the 8th. Ryan Lashley (Lake Worth, Fla.) led off with a single through the left side and then advanced to second on a walk by Spencer Theisen (Longwood, Fla.). Nick Rickles (Loxahatchee, Fla.) reached base on a fielder's choice and Stetson had runners on the corners. FGCU went to Jack Wagoner on the mound and he proceeded to throw wild pitches on his first two tosses. The first scored Lashley and the second sent Rickles to third base. Aaron Crittenden (Fort Myers, Fla.) delivered an RBI single up the middle to make the score 5-4 Gulf Coast. Robert Crews (Port Charlotte, Fla.) was plunked and Jacob deGrom (DeLeon Springs, Fla.) drew a walk to load the bases before Kurt Schluter (Jupiter, Fla.) hit into the inning-ending double play.
The Eagles struck first with a run on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first inning. In the top of the second the many Hatter fans on hand rose to their feet when Stetson starting pitcher Jacob deGrom blasted the first home run of his career deep over the right field fence. After FGCU responded with another solo tally in the bottom of the second inning, Stetson once again tied the score in the top of the 3rd. With two outs Theisen singled to left, stole second, and then scored on an RBI single up the middle by Rickles.
deGrom started on the mound and faced off against Sale for the second time this season. He threw six complete innings allowing five runs on seven hits and struck out two. Also for the second time this season he kept his team in the game long enough to give them a chance to win. Kyle Maulbetsch (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Ian Thompson (St. Petersburg, Fla.) stopped the Eagles in the 7th inning, yet Robbie Powell (Punta Gorda, Fla.) did not have as much luck allowing four runs on four hits in the 8th. For Maulbetsch, it was his first-ever relief appearance with the Hatters.
Stetson will now drop down into the lower bracket and take on the loser of today's game between Mercer and Jacksonville tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. eastern time.
We have had some success against mercer this season and we dropped two out of three to Jacksonville last weekend", said Dunn. "When you are in a tournament it doesn't matter who shows up, you have to find a way to beat 'em. We'll just have sit back and to wait to see who we will play."
Hatters fans can watch the tournament games for free on their computers with A-Sun TV. Go to www.atlanticsun.org and look for the links. Live Stats for the Stetson games will be available at www.gohatters.com.
See some A-Sun TV Highlights of the game below: