Nashville, Tenn. - No. 1 Stetson (40-17) dropped the opening game of the Atlantic Sun Tournament 15-3 to No. 6 Belmont (33-24) Wednesday afternoon in Nashville. It was the Hatters' third loss to the Bruins in four games over the past seven days.
Belmont jumped out to a seven run lead before Stetson scored its first run in the bottom of the fifth inning. In the game the Hatters sent five pitchers to the mound with each surrendering at least one run. Lindsey Caughel (Orlando, Fla.) started and tossed 4.1 innings allowing six runs on six hits while striking out three. He took the loss falling to 6-2 on the season.
Belmont's Matt Haman defeated Stetson for the second time this week. He is now 9-1 on the season after throwing six innings and giving up just one run on three hits.
After Belmont tallied three runs in the first three innings the Hatters put runners on base in the first and third innings yet could not plate any runs to stop the Bruins' momentum. Belmont scored 10 more in the fifth and sixth innings to put the game out of reach.
"When we let them put up 10 runs in two innings it just got out of hand", said Stetson head coach Pete Dunn. "It's a shame and it is disappointing but we'll just have to come back, bounce back tomorrow to get one and see how far we can go."
Stetson's lone offensive highlight came in the bottom of the eighth when Robert Crews (Port Charlotte, Fla.) reached on an infield single and Nick Rickles (Loxahatchee, Fla.) belted a line drive over the left field fence for his 12th home run of the season.
Rickles and Crews each had a pair of hits for the Hatters. Singles by Mitchel Brennan (Orlando, Fla.) and Kyle Zech (Naples, Fla.) completed the team's total of six hits in the game.
"I am concerned about our injuries right now", said Dunn. "Simpson dove for the ball and hurt himself and Carhart is still limping around out there."
Stetson's spark plug, leadoff man and team captain Jeff Simpson sprinted straight in and made a spectacular diving catch on a sinking line drive in the seventh inning. Unfortunately he rolled over on his right wrist as he made the play. The senior left fielder is scheduled for an X-Ray this afternoon and very well may be out of the lineup going forward. He was suffering from severe discomfort following the game.
Stetson's biggest injury issue is still starting pitcher Kurt Schluter. The A-Sun Pitcher of the Year has now been out for five weeks with torn muscles in his chest and is likely not due back this season.
Stetson is now scheduled to return to Dugan Field Thursday at 12:00 p.m. (eastern) to face the loser of ETSU vs. Jacksonville in an elimination game. Every game in the tournament is available for viewing free of charge on A-Sun TV. Hatters fans can find the games at www.atlanticsun.org, or by looking for a link at www.GoHatters.com.