The Stetson Hatters found their hitting shoes on Wednesday.
The Hatters pounded out 21 hits in support of seven freshmen pitchers in rolling to a 16-3 victory over Florida International at Melching Field.
The 21 hits were the most in a game for Stetson since piling up the same number in a 19-7 victory over USC Upstate on May 8, 2010. The seven freshmen pitchers, well that was a first in the long career of Hatters head coach Pete Dunn.
“I didn’t even realize that all of the guys we used tonight were freshmen,” Dunn said. “It was good to see those guys go out there and throw well, and it was really good to see us hit the ball like we are capable.”
The offense started early in the game with both teams scoring runs in the first two innings. By the time Stetson tacked on three runs in the third, the Hatters pitchers had figured out the FIU offense, and shut the Panthers down for the rest of the night.
“When you are scuffling like we have been scuffling, you are always looking for a spark,” Dunn said. “That was a good win, and we needed it badly. FIU is a good ball club and I am sure that was an aberration for them. Our kids swung the bats well.”
Stetson starter Adam Schaly was the only Hatters hurler to struggle in his outing. He walked four and allowed three runs, two earned, on two hits in his two innings. After that, FIU managed just five hits and the Hatters allowed just one more walk the rest of the night.
“We would have liked for Schaly to go a little deeper in the game, but he was struggling a little bit with his control,” Dunn said. “We got those relief pitchers in there and they all did a nice job of throwing the ball over the plate. As the lead built, that is even more important because you want to make them swing the bat.”
From and offensive standpoint, it was the top of the Stetson batting order that did most of the damage. Leadoff hitter Kevin Fagan reached base six times in the game on three hits and three walks, and scored three runs. Senior Mitchel Brennan hit second and had three hits, including a double, and drove in three runs.
Freshman Patrick Mazeika got right back into the groove after being held hitless on Sunday against Connecticut. The Hatters third hole hitter had four hits on Wednesday, including a triple, scored three runs and drove in five.
Senior James Rasmussen added three hits out of the cleanup spot in the order as did sophomore catcher Garrett Russini, who hit fifth.
“We need Brennan to step up and put some numbers up, and I think he will,” Dunn said. “He started to struggle early, then he started pressing. We put him in the two hole tonight and told him to cut his swing down a little bit and go the other way.
“We really think that Fagan is going to be a good, good player. He has a nice swing and he knows what he is doing at the plate. We knew he was struggling early, but we are committed to him and we have stuck with him in the one hole because we really think he is going to be our leadoff hitter of the future.”
The Hatters’ offensive fireworks came primarily against the first three FIU pitchers. Starter Alex Seibold (0-1) allowed six runs, four earned, on seven hits over two innings. He was followed by Dillon Maya, who allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits over 2.1 innings. John Caballero didn’t find the going any easier, allowing five runs, all earned, on four hits in his one inning of work.
Josh Thorne (1-0) was first out of the pen for the Hatters and earned the victory with 2.2 strong innings, allowing just one hit with three strikeouts. He was followed by freshman Garrison Banas, redshirt freshman Tyler Warmoth, freshman Brandon Diaz, and redshirt freshmen Ike Greenspon and Ben Rakus.
“By now, we know what we have to do,” Dunn said. “These young kids have seen enough and done enough, they just have to figure out how to do it every day. It is not that we have to stop coaching, but they have to figure out what works and what doesn’t at this level. We still have a long way to go.”
The Hatters will continue their season-opening home-stand on Friday night when they open a four-game series against Princeton. The Tigers are 0-4 on the year after getting swept at Maryland last weekend.
“I don’t know much about them, but with the way we are playing, it doesn’t matter,” Dunn said. “I told the team that we can’t worry about how good FIU is, or how good Princeton is, the thing we have to do if figure out what we are all about and play the best baseball that we can.”
The Hatters and Tigers will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night before playing a double-header on Saturday with game times set for 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. The series finale will be on Sunday at 1 p.m.
For tickets to all Stetson home games, contact the Stetson Athletics Ticket Office at 386-738-HATS or visiting GoHatters.com for information.