Stetson and Princeton turned in a pair of old-fashioned pitchers’ duels on Saturday at Melching Field. The teams split a day-night double-header, with the Tigers taking the first game 2-1 before the Hatters took the nightcap by the same score.
“We had two outstanding pitched games today, but the sad part is that we were one and one in those games,” Stetson head coach Pete Dunn said. “When you get an effort like Josh Powers gave us today, you are supposed to win. We are just scuffling to score runs. We have some kids who are just too passive at the plate.”
The split of the two games took Stetson’s record on the year to 6-7 while Princeton is now 1-6. The teams will play the fourth and final game of their weekend series on Sunday, with the first pitch slated for 1 p.m.
Game 1: Princeton 2, Stetson 1
Sophomore Josh Powers went the distance for Stetson in the opening game, pitching seven shutout innings. Unfortunately, it was the single runs he allowed in the first and ninth innings that cost him a victory.
Princeton earned its first win of the year by pushing across the winning run with two out in the ninth inning on a two-strike single from Alex Flink to drive home pinch runner Alec Keller. Flink produced four of the Tigers’ nine hits, all singles, against Powers (0-2).
While Powers was strong for Stetson, Princeton starter Kevin Link was just a little stronger. Link blanked the Hatters on three hits over seven innings and left with a 1-0 lead. That lead disappeared in the eighth inning when reliever Tyler Foote allowed a walk and then hit a batter before James Rasmussen delivered a game-tying single.
The Hatters had a chance to take the lead after first baseman Mike Ford dropped a throw from Foote on a sacrifice bunt attempt, loading the bases. Foote (1-0) bounced back to record a strikeout of Carlos Garmendia before getting Mike Fernland to hit into an inning ending double play.
After Princeton took the lead in the ninth, Stetson got the potential tying run on base with a walk before Kevin Fagan lined into a game-ending double-play at first on a hit-and-run.
Stetson managed just four hits in the game.
Game 2: Stetson 2, Princeton 1
Junior Austin Perez (2-1) held the Tigers to just one hit through eight innings to get his second win of the year. The left-hander had hoped to finish what he started, but gave up consecutive singles to start the ninth inning before turning the game over to the Stetson bullpen.
“That is the kind of outing that we need out of AP,” Dunn said. “He threw his off-speed stuff, his curveball, for strikes when he was ahead in the count or behind in the count, to left-handers and to right-handers. It was a great outing for him and we needed it after the tough loss earlier.”
Freshman Brandon Diaz was the first to come into the game in relief, getting a double play grounder that plated a run, but took the Hatters to within one out of a victory. He followed that by quickly falling behind the next Tigers hitter, starting a shell game between the coached.
Dunn went back to the bull pen for senior right-hander Joe Dye, and Princeton coach Scott Bradley countered by sending left-handed hitting Ryan Albert to the plate to bat. Dye battled back to a full-count before walking Albert, which brought Dunn back to the mound.
Junior left-hander Cameron Griffin came on to face Princeton’s Johnny Mishu, and needed just three pitches to record a strikeout, preserving the win for Perez and picking up his first career save.
The Hatters scored all of their runs in the sixth inning off Tigers reliever Cameron Mingo (0-1). Stetson sandwiched doubles from Patrick Mazeika and Garrett Russini around a Princeton error, and then got a sacrifice fly from Carlos Garmendia to plate a second run.
The two doubles in the inning were the only extra-base hits on the day for either team. Mazeika and Russini combined to account for four of Stetson’s six hits in the evening victory.
Perez finished his day with a career-high for innings pitched and tied his career-best with nine strikeouts.
“This team is going to get it together and they are going to start hitting,” Perez said. “We got a couple of huge double-plays that helped me get out of innings and those were huge momentum swings in this game.
“This was a long day. Lutz was great behind the plate for me and really pushed me around the whole game. I just focused on hitting hit mitt. The defense played great behind me. Josh pitched great today as well and did a great job of saving the bullpen after last night. Now we just have to go get them tomorrow.”