Stetson and Maine engaged in an old-fashioned pitchers’ dual on Friday night at Melching Field, and the Bears ended up getting the better end of things.
Maine topped the Hatters 7-1 behind a sparkling pitching performance from junior Tommy Lawrence and a late inning offensive explosion. The win was the first of the year for the Black Bears after five consecutive losses.
Stetson sophomore Josh Powers (0-1) took the loss despite pitching well into the eighth inning. The Bears chased him in the eighth inning after opening the frame with consecutive singles. Both players ended up scoring in the inning. Stetson drops to 2-3 on the year with the loss.
“We faced an awfully good pitcher tonight,” Stetson coach Pete Dunn said. “Lawrence is really good. We will face pitchers who throw harder than he does, but he has total command of his breaking ball, he throws strikes and works in and out.”
Lawrence (1-0) earned the victory with eight solid innings of work. He allowed just the one Stetson run on eight hits without allowing a walk. He struck out six and got a big defensive play from shortstop Michael Fransoso to end the eighth inning without allowing any more runs.
“You have to give them credit,” Dunn said. “Lawrence is a great pitcher and Fransoso is a game-changer at shortstop.”
Following Fransoso’s catch of a sinking liner off the bat of Stetson’s James Rasmussen ended a Hatters scoring threat, the Bears took advantage of three Stetson errors to score four runs in the ninth inning, off five Stetson pitchers, to put the game away.
“We got it to 3-1 and had a chance, then their shortstop made a great play,” Dunn said. “We were still in the ball game then, but then we just self-destructed. We quit fielding the ball and we quit pitching. Josh did what we needed for him to do and we were right there when we took him out. It is very disheartening when you are right there against one of the better pitchers we will see all year, then we just let it get away without giving ourselves a chance.”
Maine was led by Scott Heath, who had four hits in the game, all singles, and drove in four runs. Fransoso and Troy Black added three hits each for the Black Bears.
Patrick Mazeika continued to swing a hot bat for the Hatters, picking up three of Stetson’s eight hits in the game.
The Hatters will try to take the series on Saturday when they meet the Bears in the series finale at 2 p.m. Stetson will send junior left-hander Cameron Griffin to the mound to face Maine senior right-hander A.J. Bazdanes.