DeLAND—Fifth-ranked Florida State combined to score six runs in the seventh and eighth innings as the Seminoles handed Stetson a 9-4 setback before a near-record crowd, Tuesday at Melching Field.
Stetson (20-30 overall) and Florida State (37-11) traded leads through the first six innings. Leading 3-2, the Seminoles scored four runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth to pull away. The game drew 2,883 fans, the fourth-largest crowd in Melching Field history.
“The four-spot in the seventh killed us,” said Stetson head coach Pete Dunn. “I’m not going to say you can’t ever come back from a 9-3 deficit, but against a team like FSU the chances are very slim. The scary part is that we can play well for six or seven innings in a ball game, but then one or two bad innings have been our downfall all year.”
The Hatters opened the scoring, getting a single run in the bottom of the second. Kyle Zech started the rally with two outs, lacing a double just inside the bad at third. Mike Fernland followed with a double over the head of left fielder D.J. Stewart, easily scoring Zech for a 1-0 lead.
FSU responded with a pair of runs in the top of the third. John Sansone led off the inning with the first of his two doubles. After a walk to Justin Gonzalez and a sacrifice bunt by Danny De La Calle, Adam Schaly replaced starting pitcher Kurt Schluter and promptly surrendered a two-run single to Josh Delph as FSU grabbed a 2-1 lead.
Stetson tied it in the bottom of the fourth when Fernland singled home Josh Powers with two outs, but it didn’t stay tied for long. Delph delivered another run-scoring hit in the top of the fifth to give FSU back the lead at 3-2.
The Seminoles seized control of the game in the seventh. Gonzalez started the scoring with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2. Three batters later pinch-hitter Brett Knief lined an RBI single through the left side, extending the lead to 5-2. Stewart followed with a two-run, infield single as the Seminoles showed aggressiveness on the base paths in taking a 7-2 advantage.
Stetson plated its third run in the bottom of the seventh when K’Shawn Smith scored on a double play ball, but FSU once again responded, scoring twice in the top of the eighth for a 9-3 advantage.
The Hatters’ final run came in the bottom of the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Bocock.
Stetson had plenty of chances to take control of the game early, or get back in it late, but went just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position. The Hatters also grounded into three double plays. With just six games remaining in the regular season, Dunn stressed the Hatters need to shore up their play in order to have any kind of chance in the post-season.
“If we can eliminate some of the mistakes we’ve been making, we’ll make a run (down the stretch),” said Dunn. “If for some reason we can’t figure it out, it’s not going to happen.”
Stetson collected nine hits, with Fernland and Powers getting two each. Mitchell Jordan (2-7) suffered the loss after allowing three runs on two hits in 2.2 innings of work.
Peter Miller (3-3) picked up the win for FSU, tossing three scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
The Hatters return to Atlantic Sun Conference leader when they visit conference leader Mercer for a three-game series, beginning 6 p.m., Friday in Macon, Ga.