The Stetson Hatters took their third consecutive Atlantic Sun Conference series on Sunday by scoring a pair of runs in the very first inning against ETSU and making them stand up for a 2-0 victory.
The game included a two and half hour rain delay after the fifth inning when a heavy rain shower settled in over Melching Field, dumping several inches of rain in a very short time.
The Hatters improved to 19-22 overall with the victory and, more importantly, 8-7 in A-Sun play. ETSU falls to 22-15 with the loss, 11-7 in league play.
With the win, Stetson has moved into a tie for fourth place in the league race with Florida Gulf Coast.
Stetson jumped on ETSU starter Josh Jacques (1-3) right from the start. The freshman left-hander surrendered a leadoff single to Kevin Fagan and, after retiring Tanner Blackman, an RBI triple to Patrick Mazeika. Garrett Russini followed with a sacrifice fly to account for the offense in the game.
“From an offensive standpoint, we didn’t wear it out, but we were efficient in the first inning,” Hatters coach Pete Dunn said. “After that we got really good pitching and got some good defense. Kyle Pitts made a couple of outstanding plays out there at second base.
“When we got those two runs in, who would have guessed that we would be able to make them stand up?”
Jacques allowed just three hits in his four innings of work, but allowed four bases on balls. Clinton Freeman pitched the final four innings for ETSU, allowing just one hit.
Stetson’s Adam Schaly (1-2) earned his first collegiate victory with five shutout innings of work. The freshman left-hander scattered three hits and one walk and struck out one. ETSU got a runner on base in each of the first four innings, but Schaly stranded three and got an inning-ending double play in the second.
“Schaly went out there and gave us five good innings,” Dunn said. “We knew our bullpen was in good shape and he gave us a great start. That is three well-pitched games against the hottest team in the conference coming in.”
Following the delay, the Stetson bullpen kept the Buccaneers off the board. Junior Cameron Griffin pitched three shutout innings, allowing three hits, before giving way to freshman Tyler Warmoth, who retired all three men he faced in the ninth inning for his second save of the year.
“Cam could have finished it up, but gave up that masse shot to the left-hander,” Dunn said. “He did a great job and then Tyler went in there and did a great job to finish it.”
Stetson had just four hits in the game, two by Mazeika, who had two hits in each of the three games against ETSU after having his 21-game hit streak snapped on Tuesday night. ETSU leadoff hitter Jeremy Taylor had two of the six Bucs hits in the game.
“He certainly doesn’t do it the way you would teach it, but he can really hit,” Dunn said of Mazeika. “I compare him to Ichiro with the way he has happy feet up there, and I think he takes too many good pitches, but I can’t argue with his results. He’ll take until he gets two strikes, then he’ll foul a couple off before he gets one he can square up.”
The Hatters will enjoy a week off from non-conference competition before going on the road next weekend for a three-game series in Nashville, Tenn., against Lipscomb.
“They really have their backs to the wall at Lipscomb, but I know they are going to keep clawing to try to get into the tournament, and that is what we have to do as well,” Dunn said. “I have a lot of respect for that program there at Lipscomb.”