The group of youngsters who make up much of the Stetson baseball roster this spring are quickly getting a reputation as cardiac kids.
The Hatters pulled off another late-inning shocker on Tuesday night, scoring five times in the eighth inning to take a 7-2 victory over Bethune-Cookman at Melching Field. The victory pushed Stetson’s record for the season (8-7) over the .500 mark for the first time all year.
Bethune-Cookman fell to 9-9 on the year with the loss.
Through the first six innings on Tuesday, the Hatters had managed just two singles through the infield against Wildcats starting pitcher Scott Garner (2-2). Stetson trailed 2-1 going to the seventh.
In that inning a one-out double by freshman Carlos Garmendia was followed by a two-out single off the bat of Robert Bruce to knot the score at 2-2. That one run seemed to give the Hatters all the momentum they would need going to the eighth inning.
“Everyone was so high and confident after we tied it up,” sophomore catcher Garrett Russini said. “Coach just told us to keep swinging and we would be able to get some more.”
The swinging for the Hatters didn’t start in the eighth inning until after a couple of perfectly placed bunts, one for a hit by Kevin Fagan and the second for a sacrifice by Tanner Blackman. Those were followed by consecutive hit batters to load the bases.
Bethune-Cookman made a change on the mound there, bringing in senior Jordan Dailey, who has already earned a pair of victories in relief this year, in addition to piling up three saves.
Those credentials didn’t help him on Tuesday.
Russini blasted a run-scoring single through the right-side of the infield that was misplayed in right, allowing a second Hatter to score. Garmendia followed with an RBI single as well and then Mitchel Brennan blasted a run-scoring double to the wall in right. Bruce followed with a ground ball to short to cap the Hatters’ five-run inning.
“Our guys stayed patient,” Stetson coach Pete Dunn said. “You have to give Garner credit because he did a great job and defensively, man they made some great plays. They played really well, but our guys stayed patient and we finally got Garner out of there.”
Dunn said the Hatters had a pretty good scouting report on Dailey.
“We know Dailey pretty well and we knew he was going to throw a lot of breaking balls,” Dunn said. “The guy who had a really big at bat in that big inning was James Rasmussen. He just kept fouling off pitches, and they kept throwing him breaking balls. He just kept fouling pitches off until they hit him, and that was huge because it brought Russini to the plate with one out.”
The big inning gave Stetson freshman right-hander Josh Thorne (2-0) the victory in relief of starter Chad Rood. Thorne allowed just one hit in 4.2 innings of work, did not walk anyone and struck out four. Rood, who made his second start in the last five days, worked into the fourth inning, allowing two runs on three hits with four walks.
“We said going in that if Chad could give us three solid innings, we would take that,” Dunn said. “We tried to get four out of him, but he hit the wall and Thorny came in and did a great job. He threw the ball over the plate and kept us in the game because we weren’t doing anything offensively. When you aren’t swinging it, you have to stay close and he did exactly what we needed.”
The Wildcats scored their only runs in the night in the third inning in answer to Stetson’s second inning run. Rood allowed a pair of walks and then an infield single to load the bases with one out. Eros Modena followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 1-1. Rood then walked the next two batters to force in the second run.
Fagan moved from second base to the mound and pitched the ninth inning for Stetson.
Russini and Garmendia had two hits each to lead Stetson to the win. Shaun McCarty had two of the Wildcats’ five hits in the game.
“We beat a good club tonight,” Dunn said. “Garner threw well and kept us off balance. When we did square a ball up, they made some good defensive plays. I am just happy with our club because they showed some maturity that they haven’t shown. We stayed patient and then we took advantage. That eighth inning was an inning we haven’t shown this year.”
The Hatters will wrap up their 19-game season-opening home stand this weekend with a four game series against Fairfield. Friday’s series opener is set for 6:30 p.m.
The Hatters and Stags will play a day-night double-header on Saturday with a pair of special events. Prior to the 1 p.m. first game on Saturday Stetson will present championship rings to the 2007 Hatters team. That club was the regular season Atlantic Sun Conference champion, but was not awarded rings immediately because they did not capture the A-Sun Tournament title.
The nightcap game, which is scheduled for 7 p.m., will feature Stetson wearing special commemorative caps in recognition of breast cancer awareness.
The series finale is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
For tickets to these, and all, Stetson baseball games, contact the Stetson Athletics Ticket Office at 386-738-HATS or click on the Ticket Office link on GoHatters.com.