|Mistakes Cost Hatters in 11-8 Loss to Salukis|
Stetson coach Pete Dunn hates to lose, but he especially hates it when his team plays poorly.
On Saturday night at Melching Field, the Hatters played poorly in all facets of the game in dropping an 11-8 decision to Southern Illinois. The loss dropped Stetson to 8-2 on the season while the Salukis improved to 6-4.
It was one of those games for Stetson where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The Hatters’ normally strong starting pitching faltered, the defense was hurt by communication errors and, offensively, Stetson went down on strikes 10 times and managed to get hits in just two innings.
The problems started in the second inning for Stetson when starting pitcher Lindsey Caughel surrendered five runs on five hits. Within that inning, SIU got a pair of singles on shallow pop flies behind second base that fell to the ground untouched when senior second baseman Robert Crews appeared to get called off by an outfielder at the last second.
Those lapses loaded the bases for sophomore Donny Duschinsky, who blasted a two-out grand slam to give the Salukis an early 5-0 lead. It was the first home run allowed by Stetson pitching in 82 2/3 innings to start the 2012 season.
“They catch fly balls, that was the big thing,” Dunn said to sum up the game. “We spotted a very good team five runs and then had to play catch up and chase runs the whole game. It was a total team effort.”
The Salukis added another run in the third when Nick Johnson blasted a two-out solo homer to left.
Stetson got right back into the game in the third, scoring six runs on seven hits against SIU starter Cameron Maldonado to tie the game. The big blow in the frame was a two-run triple by junior catcher Sam Kimmel.
Both teams scored twice in the fourth inning. SIU got a two-out single up the middle by leading hitter Chris Serritella to plate their runs, a hit that got under Dunn’s skin.
“We made a bad pitch to the left-hander when it was tied,” Dunn said. “We had him 1-2 and made a bad pitch and he got a hit up the middle. It was just everything – bad pitching, bad defense and terrible offense.”
Stetson got those two runs back in the fourth inning on a two-run double by Ryan Lashley, but that was the last hit the Hatters would produce for the night. The SIU bullpen allowed Stetson to get just five base runners the rest of the way, three on errors and two on walks.
The Salukis reclaimed the lead for good in the seventh inning on a fielding error on a slow roller to first base. SIU added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth on two wild pitches.
“All I know is that we played terribly,” Dunn said. “Even though we came back, and if there was any positive it was that we fought back, but the problem was that we were playing catch up and couldn’t keep any momentum. If we catch some fly balls, we might win that game going away.”
Sophomore reliever Matt Murphy (1-1) got the victory for SIU with 2.2 no-hit innings of work. Another sophomore, Todd Eaton, worked the final two innings for his second save. Sophomore Austin Perez (0-2) took the loss after working three innings, allowing three runs on three hits.
The Hatters will try to bounce back on Sunday when they take on Georgia State (6-5) in the final game of the Brighthouse Invitational. The Panthers won the opening game on Saturday 4-3 over Penn (0-2) in 11 innings, scoring the winning run on a wild pitch.
“It will be a good test for us tomorrow,” Dunn said. “The first game we lost we bounced back and really played well. We had better learn some lessons from this. If we are going to be a good team, and we are not a good team yet, far from it, we’ll learn from this and bounce back tomorrow. We are going to be playing a team that won an emotional game today and they are going to want to come out of here two and one. We had better be at our best.”
Southern Illinois will square off with Penn at 11 a.m. with Stetson and Georgia State slated to follow with a 3 p.m. start.