DeLand, Fla. - For the second consecutive day Stetson earned a one-run win over A-Sun Conference rival Mercer University (14-7, 4-4 A-Sun). Friday night Stetson (15-4, 4-1 A-Sun) held on for the 4-3 win and Saturday afternoon the Hatters battled back and defeated the Bears 3-2 with a run in the 8th inning and another in the 9th.
"That was a great ball game our kids played their hearts out, Mercer played their hearts out you had two great pitchers going at one another out there in Love and Schluter", said Stetson head coach Pete Dunn. "It was exciting. Good pitching and good defense. There wasn't a lot of hitting because the pitching was outstanding on both sides".
Redshirt sophomore Mitchel Brennan (Orlando, Fla.) had the satisfaction of leading off the 9th inning with a pinch-hit single and then scoring the winning run against the program that recruited him out of high school and then released him after his freshman season. After his single up the middle Brennan made a very heads-up play. He moved from first all the way to third on a sacrifice bunt by Robert Crews (Port Charlotte, Fla.) when he noticed that the third baseman had charged the bunt and nobody was covering the bag. The next batter Ryan Lashley (Lake Worth, Fla.) sat on a 1-0 curve ball and drove it up the middle to finish off the dramatic comeback victory.
"That was experience right there. Mitchel was looking for it all the way, he knew the bunt was on so he looked for it and never hesitated", said Dunn. "What a great play, he took advantage of it and then of course Lash came through with the big hit. Coach Leavitt called him over and told him he was going to get a breaking ball so just stay back on it and drive it the other way."
"Our kids did a heck of a job getting the tying run in the 8th and then the winner in the 9th", he added.
Mercer took a 2-0 lead after scoring single runs in the 3rd and 4th innings off Stetson starter Kurt Schluter (Jupiter, Fla.). Although he did surrender a pair of runs in a pitching duel with Mercer's Brandon Love (Augusta, Ga.), Schluter pitched brilliantly equaling his career-high of 10 strike outs without allowing a base on balls.
Stetson scored a run in the bottom of the 4th inning on an RBI single up the middle by Crews. Ben Carhart (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) scored on the play, yet Nick Rickles (Loxahatchee, Fla.) was thrown out at the plate trying to tie the game.
Mercer had a chance to increase its lead in the top of the 7th with two outs and the bases loaded. Thomas Carroll (Albany, Ga.) looped a ball into short left-center field that looked like a base hit until Jeff Simpson (Valrico, Fla.) chased it down and made a diving catch.
In the 8th Spencer Theisen (Longwood, Fla.) led off with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch, moved to third after a sacrifice bunt by Simpson and then scored the tying run when Sean Emory (Miami, Fla.) dropped a single into right-center.
"It was a team effort today... everybody contributed. Talk about a blue collar win... that was a blue collar win", said Dunn.
Austin Perez (Loxahatchee, Fla.) pitched 1.2 key scoreless innings for the Hatters before Jake Boyd (West Palm Beach, Fla.) took over, pitched the final inning, struck out one batter, and picked up the win to go to 2-0 on the season. DJ Johnson (Adel, Ga.) suffered the loss in relief and fell to 0-1.
Both Emory and Lashley finished the game 2-for-4 with an RBI.
The Hatters and Bears will return to Melching Field on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. for the final game of the series. Stetson fans can see the games on Hatter Vision at GoHatters.com with Bill Topping calling the action. Tickets are available at the gate or can be purchased online at GoHatters.com or by calling 738-HATS.