FORT MYERS, Fla. – Going up early and never looking back, Florida Gulf Coast (37-18, 19-8) defeated the Stetson baseball team (26-29, 15-12) by a score of 15-2 to hand the Hatters their first sweep of the Atlantic Sun Conference season.
“Total collapse,” Stetson head coach Pete Dunn said of the one-sided defeat. “It was a total collapse defensively, a total collapse of pitching, and it was not a good job at the plate. When you do that against a club that’s playing as well Florida Gulf Coast, that’s what happens. That’s the score that occurs when you don’t play well in any part of the game.
“The only hope is that today is a total aberration,” Dunn continued. “You can’t learn from it. There’s not enough hours between now and Wednesday to work on the stuff we did today. There’s not enough time to practice. You hope that we can put it behind us, that we can get back to work, and that we can start all over again for the tournament.”
The Hatters gave up 15 runs on 20 FGCU hits and committed three errors. The Stetson pitching staff recorded seven walks, and struck out just two Eagles. The loss in Saturday’s regular season finale means that Stetson will be the number five seed in next week’s A-Sun Tournament. That Hatters are scheduled to take on fourth seeded ETSU at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday at Melching Field.
Both teams were able to score one run on a couple of hits in the first inning, but FGCU scored five runs over the next three frames, while Stetson was unable to take advantage of its opportunities at the plate.
The Eagles scored two off of Stetson starter Adam Schaly in the third, using a pair of doubles, a single, and a Stetson error to take a 3-1 lead. After Schaly allowed a walk and a single early in the fourth, he was relieved by freshman Josh Thorne on the mound, but the Eagles still capitalized on the opportunity.
A walk, an error, and another single, this one Brooks Beisner’s third of four singles on the day, led to another three FGCU runs, giving the Eagles a 6-1 advantage through four innings.
Stetson was able to get one back in the fifth thanks to a pair of Eagle errors. Sophomore Darby McCormick recorded the only hit of the inning, singling up the middle. A subsequent walk by freshman Patrick Mazeika, and the second of the aforementioned FGCU errors plated the run that made it 6-2.
It was during the final two offensive frames for the Eagles that things got out of hand. FGCU scored nine runs in the seventh and eighth innings, working through four Stetson relievers, to finish with a commanding 15-2 advantage.
Of the few highlights for the Hatters on Saturday were Mazeika going two-for-three, which included his 11th double of the year, and redshirt freshman Ben Rakus allowing no runs on no hits and striking out one in his lone inning of work on the mound.
Stetson concludes the regular season with an overall record of 26-29 and a league mark of 15-12. The Hatters will be the five seed in the upcoming A-Sun Tournament, which will be held at Melching Field in DeLand.
The double elimination conference championship features the top eight teams in the league. Stetson will take on ETSU in the opener, while top seed and regular season champion Mercer will play eight seed USC Upstate at 1:15 p.m.
Florida Gulf Coast, which earned the second seed with today’s victory, will play the loser of Lipscomb and Kennesaw State’s second game on Saturday. After that 5:00 p.m. contest, third seeded North Florida will play the winner of Lipscomb and KSU in the night cap at 8:15 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now with tournament packages at $45 and day passes at $15. Call 386-738-HATS or visit GoHatters.com/tix for more information.