When Jacksonville scored five runs in the sixth inning on Friday night at Melching Field, the homestanding Stetson Hatters could have easily dropped their heads and let the Dolphins escape with a victory.
Instead, the Hatters battled right back, reclaiming the lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame and then played add on the rest of the night to take a 9-5 victory over JU and even the weekend series at 1-1. The teams will meet again on Saturday at 2 p.m. to decide the Atlantic Sun Conference series.
Stetson improved to 20-10 overall and 4-4 in league play with the victory while dropping JU to 12-20 overall and 2-6 in the conference.
“The thing I was most proud of was after they had that big inning and took the wind out of our sails, we battled back and took the lead back and then kept building it,” Hatters coach Pete Dunn said. “That is big because sometimes when you have a team shutout and they put up a big crooked number, it is tough to come back. Our guys came right back and took the lead.”
Freshman Tanner Blackman, starting for just the third time all year, drove in the tying run in the sixth with a double and then scored the go-ahead run later in the second, after JU starter Alex McRae (2-4) was lifted, when two Dolphins’ relievers were unable to find the strike zone, walking three straight to force Blackman home.
Stetson, which had built a 4-0 lead early, then added a pair of runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to keep the Dolphins at bay.
Sophomore Cameron Griffin (2-0) picked up the victory for Stetson in relief of starter Lindsey Caughel. Senior Robbie Powell worked the final two innings for the Hatters to earn his eighth save of the year.
“I thought Lindsey went out and did a nice job and I thought our guys competed,” Dunn said. “We left some guys on early again and still didn’t do as good a job as we need to do. We didn’t cash in on some runs.
“The bull pen did a great job, especially in that inning when (Tucker) Donahue came in and got the two punch outs on (Adam Brett) Walker and (Jimmy) Appleby to get out of that inning with the tying run at third.”
Stetson finished the night with 12 hits, with two each coming from Robert Crews, Sam Kimmel, Mark Jones, Robert Bruce and Blackman.
“I thought Robert Bruce and Tanner Blackman both had big hits for us,” Dunn said. “I think that was just Tanner’s third start, and he stepped up big for us tonight, as did Bruce. They had four hits out of the eight and nine spots in the order.”
Senior Ben Carhart joined Kimmel with two RBI each in the game. Carhart’s second came on a solo homer in the ninth inning, his second of the year.
“I went up there just looking to get on base,” Carhart said. “He left a changup over the middle of the plate and I put a good swing on it and it went out. Over the past few games we have started to swing it well, even though we are still struggling a little.”
The Hatters will send senior right-hander Will Dorsey to the mound on Saturday to face JU sophomore Chris Anderson, who picked up the save in relief for the Dolphins on Thursday. Carhart said getting a win on Saturday is the most important thing for the Hatters right now.
“We know that tomorrow is a really big game for us because we know that if you can two of three every week, at the end of the year we’ll be at the top,” Carhart said.
Dunn said he hopes to see his club get on a run because the road will be difficult in the coming week with a game against USF followed by road trips to Kennesaw State and Miami.
“We just have to keep it between the ditches right now,” Dunn said. “We have to stay focused and keep moving ahead. We haven’t been able to get anything going and we need to try to get on a little bit of a run.”