NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Stetson baseball team (19-23, 8-8) fell to .500 in Atlantic Sun Conference play on Friday night, falling at Lipscomb (15-28, 5-11) by a score of 6-4 at Ken Dugan Field. It marked the sixth straight conference series that the Hatters have lost the opener.
The Bisons took advantage of an early error in the bottom of the second as a single up the middle drove in the first run of the game, but the Hatters quickly countered.
Stetson loaded the bases in the top of the third with a walk from sophomore Tyler Bocock, sophomore Darby McCormick’s second single of the night, and a walk by freshman Patrick Mazeika. Sophomore Garrett Russini then tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI single through the infield.
The Hatters took their first lead of the game in the top of the fifth, scoring three runs on five singles. Bocock led off the frame with a single through the right side, and then advanced to second on a sac bunt by freshman Kevin Fagan.
It was then that Stetson rattled off four straight singles. McCormick, with his third single of the contest, Mazeika, Russini, and freshman Konner Lutz recorded consecutive hits to make it 3-1. An RBI ground out by freshman Carlos Garmendia finished the scoring in the fifth, making it 4-1 in favor of the Hatters.
Unfortunately for the Hatters, it was an offense heavy inning for both teams. Lipscomb regained the lead in the bottom half, scoring four runs on Stetson starter Josh Powers to make it 5-4 in favor of the Bisons.
“We fought back from a 1-0 deficit to take the 4-1 lead, and had an opportunity to shut them down after we put a crooked number up, and instead of shutting them down we go right back and let them score four,” Stetson head coach Pete Dunn said after the loss. “You can’t do that. You can’t get the momentum like that, and then let them go right back out there and take the lead right back. And then, after they score four, we come in and they shut us down within 10 pitches. They took advantage of a statement inning opportunity, and we didn’t.”
Senior Joe Dye came on in relief of Powers and pitched a clean sixth, but a leadoff single in the seventh turned into an insurance run after a sac bunt and an RBI single to left.
The Hatters attempted to rally in the eighth when a pair of walks and a single to center field by Rasmussen loaded the bases. Mazeika, the A-Sun’s leading hitter coming into the weekend, came to the plate with a chance to even the score. After getting behind 2-0, Lipscomb’s Tyler Burstrom came back and struck out Mazeika swinging to end the Stetson charge.
“Our worst at bats tonight were with men in scoring position,” Dunn continued. “It was just bad at bats in crucial situations. That’s not supposed to happen this time of the year. It happens early, especially with young guys, but not this time of the year. It can’t happen.”
Burstrom shut the Hatters down in the ninth to earn his second save of the year. The Bisons finished with six runs on 11 hits and two errors. Starter Josh Cotham improved to 2-4 on the season after allowing four runs on eight hits in a six-inning start.
Powers fell to 1-6 on the season after allowing five runs, four of which were earned, on eight hits in five innings. McCormick finished the night 3-for-3, while Rasmussen went 2-for-2 after pinch hitting for McCormick in the seventh.
Stetson will attempt to come back from the Friday night loss and win its fourth straight conference series. The Hatters and the Bisons will play game two on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. with junior Austin Perez and Lipscomb’s Denton Norman scheduled to take the hill.