HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky.—Taylor Cockrell tossed his second complete game of the season as Stetson salvaged the final game of their Atlantic Sun Conference weekend series with Northern Kentucky, winning 6-2, Sunday at Bill Akers Baseball Complex.
Cockrell (3-3) scattered seven hits and struck out eight batters without a walk. The freshman right-hander needed just 106 pitches to help Stetson shake off a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Norse on Saturday.
“Taylor threw his breaking ball over the plate -- and it’s a plus breaking ball,” said Stetson head coach Pete Dunn. “He got left-handed hitters out with it, and got strikeouts when he needed them.”
Once Stetson regained the lead in the sixth, Cockrell seemed to step up his performance. He retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.
“Good competitors and guys that know how to win do that,” said Dunn. “When he needed to turn it up a notch, he did. He’s been our go-to guy for most of the season.”
Northern Kentucky (10-19 overall, 4-5 A-Sun) took an early 1-0 lead in the second on a wild pitch by Cockrell.
NKU regained the lead in the fourth when Cockrell plunked the lead-off batter, then allowed consecutive singles to give the Norse a 2-1 lead. But Cockrell minimized the damage by getting a pair of strike outs to end the inning.
Cockrell cruised through the middle innings before running into a bit of trouble in the seventh, when Josh Myers led off the inning with a triple. After Cockrell struck out Quint Heady, Myers was cut down at the plate as part of a failed suicide squeeze attempt.
Stetson added to its lead in the eighth. Fagan led off with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Zech and scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jordan Schulz to make it 4-2. K’Shawn Smith’s single up the middle with two outs scored Schulz to make it 5-2.
The Hatters added an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Pitts plated Mazeika with a sacrifice fly.
Stetson collected 11 hits on the day, with Mazeika, Russini, Pitts, Fagan and Zech each getting two.
One day after making six errors in a doubleheader, the Hatters played flawless defense on Sunday.
““We needed to come back with a “W”, said Dunn. “We needed some energy and needed to compete and we did. Cockrell set the tone on the mound. We came from behind twice and put three runs up late to distance ourselves. Today was a much better effort, the kind of effort we need day in and day out.”
Caleb Lonkard (0-1) was tagged with the loss in relief, allowing two runs on three hits in 2.2 innings.
The Hatters return to action when they host Bethune-Cookman, 6:30 p.m., Tuesday at Melching Field.