The Stetson Hatters knew going into Friday night’s series opener against ETSU that they would have to score against Bucs ace Kerry Doane if they hoped to win.
Doane gave Stetson scoring chances, but the Hatters were unable to take advantage, leaving nine runners on base in a 3-2 loss. Doane improved to 8-1 on the year with his eighth complete game performance. Stetson sophomore Josh Powers (1-5) was a hard-luck loser again despite a complete game performance of his own.
With the victory, the Buccaneers (22-13, 11-5) moved into no worse than a tie for first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference race. Stetson fell to 17-22 overall and 6-7 in league play.
“It was the same stuff, different day for Powers,” Stetson head coach Pete Dunn said. “He goes out there and pitches as good as he can pitch, and we just don’t do enough to win a ball game, for him or for us.
“You have to tip your hat to Doane because he went out there and pitched a good game as well, but it all goes back to our worst at bats in the game came with runners in scoring position.”
Stetson had chances to score against Doane in the first, third, fourth, fifth and eighth innings, but only dented the plate in a two-run fourth on an RBI triple by Mitchel Brennan and a sacrifice fly by Carlos Garmendia.
Those two runs answered the two ETSU scored off Powers in the top of the inning. Dylan Tritsch led off with a single, stole second and then scored on a double by Clinton Freeman. Andrew Lasure plated Freeman with a bloop single to left.
That was where the game stayed until the seventh inning when Powers hit Alex Reynolds with a 2-2 pitch to open the inning. A hit-and-run single to right by Derek Niesman moved Reynolds to third, allowing him to score on a double-play grounder.
Freshman Konner Lutz, who had two hits in the game, left five runners on base early when he grounded out to end the first inning with two on, and again in the third inning with the bases loaded.
The Hatters had a great chance to tie the game in the eighth inning when Lutz opened the frame with a double. Rasmussen delivered a perfect sacrifice bunt to move pinch runner Mike Fernland to third, but, with just one out, Brennan was unable to get the ball past the drawn in infield and Fernland was cut down at the plate.
“There at the end of the game when we had a runner at third and less than two outs, it is so frustrating because we preach and preach that you don’t have to get into a hurry to hit and that you are going to get a good pitch,” Dunn said. “These guys get up there and it all just seems to go out the window.”
Six of Stetson’s eight hits in the game came from freshman, with Kevin Fagan, Mazeika and Lutz delivering two each. Niesman was the only ETSU hitter with two hits for the Bucs.
Like they have done the last two weekend, the Hatters will try to battle back after dropping the opening game of an A-Sun series. Junior left-hander Austin Perez, who has won three straight league starts, will go to the mound for Stetson on Saturday.
“I have every confidence in the world that AP is going to go out there and do what he does,” Dunn said. “We are going to have to do what we have done and go out there and score him some runs.”