DeLAND—USC Upstate used a seven-run seventh inning to rally for a 10-4 win over Stetson in the regular-season finale for both Atlantic Sun Conference teams, Saturday at Melching Field.
Stetson finishes the regular season with a 24-32 overall record and a 13-14 A-Sun mark. The loss, coupled with a win by Jacksonville over Northern Kentucky, makes the Hatters the seventh seed for next week’s conference tournament in Fort Myers.
The win helped the Spartans (17-38 overall, 6-20 A-Sun) avoid a series sweep. After scoring 30 runs on 43 hits in the first two games of the series, the Hatters managed just eight hits and four runs on Saturday. Stetson also committed three errors on the day.
“It’s a very disappointing way to end the regular season,” said Stetson head coach Pete Dunn. “It all comes down to not playing good defense. We didn’t play well in the field and gave them so many opportunities to have a big inning. You can’t win games if you don’t make routine plays.”
Trailing 2-1 in the top of the seventh, Upstate exploded for seven runs in the frame for an 8-2 lead. Luke Weber’s two-run single and a two-run double by Stephen Dowling highlighted the inning as 11 batters came to the plate.
The Spartans added two more runs in the top of the eighth. Tyler Lesch hit a solo home run and A.J. Mackey lined an RBI single to make it 10-2.
Stetson mounted a mini-rally in the bottom of the eighth, scoring two runs on singles by Wade McNabb and Jordan Schulz to make it 10-4. The Hatters later loaded the bases with two outs but couldn’t score another run.
Starting pitchers Kevin Fagan of Stetson and USC Upstate’s Dylan Parker hooked up in a scoreless pitcher’s duel over the first four innings before Stetson broke through for a pair of runs in the fifth. Kyle Zech laced an RBI single, with the second run scoring on a two-out error for a 2-0 Stetson lead.
Upstate cut the lead in half with an unearned run in the top of the sixth, before staging a furious rally in the seventh.
Fagan was outstanding in his fourth start of the season for the Hatters, allowing one run (unearned) on just two hits in 5.2 innings. He struck out four and walked just one.
Parker (2-5) earned the win for the Spartans, allowing two runs on four hits in seven innings of work.
Mitchell Jordan (2-8) suffered the loss for the Hatters.
Mike Fernland led Stetson with three hits.
The A-Sun Tournament is set for May 21-125 at Swanson Stadium in Fort Myers. The Hatters will face second seeded Mercer at 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday.