The Stetson coaching staff knew their young Hatters baseball team would endure some growing pains early in the 2013 season. In Friday’s season-opening 5-2 loss to visiting Saint Joseph’s, the Hatters showed how much they have to learn.
Early defensive mistakes allowed the visiting Hawks to take the lead, trouble putting together consistent at bats kept the Hatters from generating much offense, and pitching mistakes helped Saint Joseph’s put the game away late.
“It was all the way around,” Hatters head coach Pete Dunn said. “We didn’t pitch very well, we certainly didn’t play good defense and we didn’t swing the bat. That is certainly a bad recipe and we got what we deserved tonight.”
A pair of defensive lapses up the middle in the second inning helped the Hawks get out to an early 2-0 lead against Stetson starter Kurt Schluter (0-1). The Hawks got their first run on an error and their second on a sacrifice fly.
Saint Joseph’s put Schulter on the ropes in the fourth inning with a pair of singles. The senior’s night ended early when he followed with consecutive walks, the second of which forced in the third SJU run.
The Hatters didn’t get their first hit in the game off Hawks’ starter Kyle Mullen (1-0) until a Patrick Mazeika single with two out in the fourth. Stetson then mounted a rally in the fifth, scoring a pair of runs on a one-out double by Mike Fernland. But, even that play ended badly when Fernland was thrown out trying to stretch to a triple.
Saint Joseph’s put the game away in the top of the ninth when Stephan Kancylarz blasted a two-run homer just inside the right-field fair pole off freshman reliever Tyler Warmoth.
“Chris (Roberts) had just asked me if we wanted to leave Tyler out there or bring (Garrison) Banas in,”Dunn said. “But, Warmoth has a plus changeup that should work against their left-hander, and he just left it over the plate.”
A trio of hurlers followed Mullen for Saint Joseph’s, and Stetson managed just three base-runners over the final four innings. Jimmy Yacabonis worked a perfect ninth inning to pick up his first save of the year for the Hawks.
“It was disappointing early in the game because the defense got us behind,” Dunn said. “We told them yesterday that they can’t go out there and try to do too much, but that is what happened. There were a lot of little mistakes out there that must people don’t see. You can’t do those things. The problem with the young kids is you can’t assume they know the mistakes. You have to point them all out to hope that they learn from.”
Stetson managed just five hits in the game. Garrett Russini had a pair of hits, including a double, to lead the way. The Hawks got multiple hits from four players in piling up 11 singles and the one home run. Chris Hueth led the way with three hits while Quinn Renner, Brian O’Keefe and Anthony Cirillo had two each.
“You have to give their guys credit,” Dunn said of the Hawks. “Their guys were throwing sliders and breaking balls for strikes on 3-2 counts. You can’t dwell on this game because there is nothing you can do to bring this one back. We have to go out there with a clean slate tomorrow and try to do a better job offensively early. We certainly can’t panic after one game.”
The Hatters will attempt to even the series when sophomore Josh Powers makes his season debut on the mound. Powers was 4-2 with a 2.62 ERA last season. He will square off with right-hander Jordan Carter for Saint Joseph’s.
Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start at Melching Field and will be preceded by Chipper Jones throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. For tickets to all Stetson baseball games, call 386-738-HATS or visit GoHatters.com.