JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Stetson baseball team earned its first road victory of the season on Saturday afternoon, as the Hatters (14-17, 3-5) evened the weekend series at 1-1 against Jacksonville (11-20, 4-4), winning by a score of 9-8 in 10 innings at Sessions Stadium.
After giving up a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to put the game into extra innings, Stetson scored one in the top of the 10th, which proved to be the game-winner for the Hatters. With two outs and a man on third, sophomore Garrett Russini recorded his first hit of the day with a single to center field that put Stetson up for good.
Freshman Kevin Fagan, who reached base five times on Saturday with three hits and two walks, led off the 10th by walking to first. He advanced to second when sophomore Tyler Bocock was able to lay down a sacrifice bunt after fouling two off to fall behind in the count. Fagan was able to score easily on Russini’s single after reaching third on a long fly out to right field by freshman Patrick Mazeika.
Stetson closed it out in the bottom of the 10th as redshirt freshman Tyler Warmoth returned to the mound after recording the final two outs of the ninth. The right-hander, one of very few Hatter pitchers who didn’t make an appearance in Friday’s opener, forced a foul out, and struck out two batters to end the game and give Stetson the 9-8 victory.
“I’m happy,” Stetson head coach Pete Dunn said matter-of-factly after the game. “I told the guys they need to be happy with that [win]. When things haven’t been going well, sometimes teams wait for bad things to happen. This team showed some resiliency today that we’re going to need to build upon. I’m extremely happy, not only that we won, but also the way we won.”
The Hatters had to do so by coming back from a number of let downs. After building a 5-0 lead off of five singles and two hit batsmen in the top of the first, Stetson ended up trailing 6-5 after just three innings.
Starting pitcher sophomore Josh Powers allowed more runs over the first three frames than he had in any start this season to date. The Dolphins were able to get to Powers with three runs on four hits, including a two-run homer, in the bottom of the first. JU then added another trio of runs with three hits and a walk in the third.
Ending the third by getting Scott Schaub to ground out to himself, Powers quickly got into a groove. Including the aforementioned dribbler, Powers retired 11 straight batters before giving up a single in the bottom of the seventh.
Along the way, the Hatter offense was able to give Powers some support, something the starter hadn’t received much of thus far in 2013. Coming into this weekend, Stetson was only scoring 2.28 runs per game when the sophomore was on the hill. The Hatters added three runs in the fifth to give Powers a two-run advantage in the fifth.
A single through the infield by senior Mitchel Brennan drove in the first run, while a fielder’s choice and a single up the middle by Fagan gave Stetson the 8-6 lead that the team would then squander in the ninth.
There were even more opportunities for Stetson to add insurance throughout the game, though. The Hatters left 11 runners on base, were 0-for-2 with the bases loaded, and finished the game 0-for-4 with a runner on third base with less than two outs.
Still, Stetson came away with the win on Saturday, and will have an opportunity to win the Atlantic Sun Conference series on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. when junior Austin Perez squares off against JU’s Alex McRae.
“That’s a big win for us,” Dunn continued. “We didn’t play well all the way through the game. I was very disappointed in our bunting game early. Twice we didn’t get bunts down. Those are things that will jump up and bite you, and it did bite us today, but we were fortunate to overcome it.”
Powers did not record a decision, but his success midway through the contest not only gave the Hatters a chance to recover, but it allowed much of the bullpen to rest after Friday’s eight-pitcher night. The sophomore struck out four and walked one while allowing eight runs in 8.1 innings.
Warmoth earned the victory, improving to 3-2 on the year after striking out two and walking one while not allowing a hit in 1.1 innings. The Dolphins’ Adam Maxon fell to 0-1 on the season, allowing one run on one hit in the loss.
Fagan and Brennan freshman Konner Lutz each finished with three hits in the win, while Brennan added two and drove in three runs. Fagan and senior James Rasmussen each scored two runs for the Hatters in the victory.