DeLand, Fla. - After falling behind late the #25 Stetson Hatters scored four runs in the bottom of the 7th inning and defeated Kennesaw State 6-3 Friday night at Melching Field. The win kept the Hatters (23-7, 10-3 A-Sun) in first place, while the second place Owls (19-13, 8-4 A-Sun) fell another game back in the conference standings.
Spencer Theisen (Longwood, Fla.) and Ben Carhart (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) led the offensive charge with each delivering two hits and a key RBI.
"Our guys showed up ready to play tonight. We had the intensity we needed, I'm real proud of them", said Stetson head coach Pete Dunn. "Carhart came up with a big hit to tie it and then Spencer's big hit put us up."
After Stetson scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the first on a home run over the wall in left by Nick Rickles (Loxahatchee, Fla.), his 4th of the season, KSU answered with single runs in the second and sixth innings before moving ahead with another in the seventh.
Down for the first time in the game and with one out in the bottom of the seventh Rickles reached base on an error. It was a hard hit ground ball that the first baseman couldn't handle allowing him to move up to second on the play. Carhart, the next batter, jumped on the first pitch and drilled it up the middle scoring Rickles and tying the game.
With two outs in the inning Ryan Lashley (Lake Worth, Fla.) drew a walk advancing Carhart to second. Theisen was up next and he delivered the game-winner with a rope single up the middle.
With Stetson's #1 starter Lindsey Caughel (Orlando, Fla.) out for the weekend due to injury, it was up to freshman Austin Perez (Loxahatchee, Fla.) to step in and give his team everything he could in an important game.
"Austin really did a great job. It was his first collegiate start and we were playing for first place in the conference on a Friday night. You couldn't ask any more out of him. He gave us a quality start", said Dunn.
Perez tossed five innings allowing one run on three hits. He struck out five batters and walked two.
Jake Boyd took over for Perez in the sixth and threw the next three innings. He gave up two runs, one earned, and struck out a batter. Boyd picked up the win and improved to 3-0 on the season. Robbie Powell (Punta Gorda, Fla.) closed the deal in the ninth striking out one batter and earning his team-leading 5th save of the season.
Adding to the Hatter offense Mark Jones (Bunnell, Fla.), Kyle Zech (Naples, Fla.), and Lashley each picked up singles, and Jeff Simpson (Valrico, Fla.) ripped his 6th double of the season.
"It was a big win, a huge win for us", said Dunn. "It is always nice to get the Friday night game, but of course now we have to come out and get tomorrow's. We didn't have a ton of offense but we came up with some big hits after leaving some guys on early. It wasn't our best played game of the year but a win is a win."
The Hatters and Owls will return to Melching Field Saturday at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Stetson fans can see the games on Hatter Vision at GoHatters.com with Bill Topping calling the action. Tickets for home games are available at the gate or can be purchased online at GoHatters.com or by calling 738-HATS.