The Stetson baseball team found out on Thursday night that the numbers put up this year by the Kennesaw State pitching staff are legitimate.
The visiting Owls proved that point in a 4-0 series opening victory over the Hatters. It was the first shutout loss for Stetson this year, and the first for the Hatters since a 5-0 loss at Belmont on March 24 of last year.
Much of the credit for blanking Stetson (12-14, 1-3 in the Atlantic Sun) goes to Kennesaw State starter Stephen Janas. The junior right-hander came into the game with a minuscule 0.41 ERA on the year and dropped it to 0.32 by holding the Hatters scoreless into the seventh inning.
The Owls’ bullpen did the rest.
“The story of the game tonight was Stephen Janas and their bullpen,” Hatters coach Pete Dunn said. “They made us pay with two unearned runs in the third inning and Janas made them stand up. The bullpen did a nice job. Even though they made three errors in the game, their infield made some nice plays when we did have some scoring opportunities.”
Kennesaw State (16-10, 5-2) scored all the runs the Owls would need in the third inning off Stetson starter Josh Powers (1-3). The damage was all done with two out in the inning after a routine grounder to second ended in two errors and runners at second and third.
KSU cleanup hitter Peyton Hart made the mistakes hurt with a two-run single to right center on a 1-2 pitch.
“Josh got ahead in the count, but hung a breaking ball and gave up the big hit,” Dunn said. “Josh didn’t pitch poorly, but he didn’t pitch as well as he has. This team doesn’t have a lot of room for error and when we gave up those runs early we were back in a position of having to chase runs.”
The Hatters did manage seven hits off the KSU pitchers, and had runners in scoring position five times, but were never able to push across a run. Only once, in the fifth inning, did Stetson advance a runner as far as third base.
“You have to tip your hat to them,” Dunn said. “They were able to score some runs early and their pitching staff made it stand up. You just have to come back tomorrow and start over.”
Kennesaw State got single insurance runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. A walk, a pair of bunts and a ground out produced the fourth inning run, and a hit batter, followed by a two-out double from Chris McGowan in the fifth plated the other.
Hart, McGowan and Jacob Bruce had two hits each to lead Kennesaw State.
The Hatters and Owls will continue their Easter Weekend series on Friday night. First pitch at Melching Field is set for 6:30 p.m.