Nashville, Tenn. - With a pair of victories over Lipscomb Saturday in Nashville the Stetson baseball team clinched the 2011 Atlantic Sun Conference Regular-Season Championship. It is the first for the Hatters since 2007 when they also won the regular-season title.
The Hatters have now won eight consecutive conference games and have clinched their ninth A-Sun series in nine opportunities. One more win over Lipscomb would lead to Stetson's third consecutive league series sweep.
After today's games Stetson is now 39-12 overall and 22-4 in the A-Sun while Lipscomb has fallen to 18-32 and 9-17 in league play.
"I am proud of our guys, it wasn't all pretty today but a W is a W and a championship is a championship", said Stetson head coach Pete Dunn. "When we started the season out we weren't given much credit in the conference being picked to finish 5th and we didn't have any players on the conference team. We used that from the get-go as motivation and decided we had to go out and earn it."
The day's second game was a pitching duel through five innings until the teams swapped two-run innings in the 6th and 7th. Hatters opened the 6th with a Robert Crews (Port Charlotte, Fla.) single. He moved up on a groundout and then scored on a single by Mark Jones (Bunnell, Fla.). Jones advanced on the throw to the plate and then scored on a single by Spencer Theisen (Longwood, Fla.).
After the Bisons tied the score in the bottom of the 6th, the Hatters answered with two more. The key hit was an RBI infield single by Ben Carhart (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) that scored Crews and then Jeff Simpson (Valrico, Fla.) on a resulting error.
Lipscomb answered once again sending the game into the 9th inning tied at 4-4. Ryan Lashley (Lake Worth, Fla.) led off with a single to center and then moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mitchel Brennan (Orlando, Fla.). After a Simpson walk Crews came through once again with an RBI single before being thrown out at second base. With Simpson on third and two outs Carhart blasted an RBI double deep to left center.
"This one wasn't easy you gotta give them credit they kept coming back. We put a couple runs up on the board and then they would come back", said Dunn. "They were not ready to roll over. We kept battling through it and got the win today for the championship."
Crews finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Lashley and Carhart had two hits each with Lashley scoring the winning run and Carhart driving in a pair.
The first game of the day was a continuation of last night's series opener that was suspended due to weather with Stetson leading 5-3 in the 6th inning. When the game resumed the Hatters tallied another four runs and the Bisons added two leading to a 9-5 final score. With the victory Stetson clinched a tie for the A-Sun regular season title and secured the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
Spencer Theisen led the Hatter offense in game one going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base. Robert Crews finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI. Trey Blackman and Mitchel Brennan each added a pair of RBI to the cause.
Lindsey Caughel (Orlando, Fla.) started the game on the mound for Stetson. He threw five complete innings before the skies opened up. Caughel allowed three runs on six hits, struck out five and earned the win to go 5-1 on the season. Tucker Donahue (Coral Springs, Fla.) took over on day two and tossed the final four innings struck out three and picked up his first save of the season.
"We still have a lot of work to do. We have a big game tomorrow and I'd like to get number 40 tomorrow and then go home and finish it up in front of our home fans", said Dunn.
The Hatters and Bisons will return to Dugan Field for the final game of the series Sunday at 1:00 p.m. eastern time. Stetson fans can hear the game on Hatter Vision at GoHatters.com with Bill Topping calling the action.