The Hatters took three of the four games in the series and improved to 13-3 on the year with the win. Stetson moved up to No. 14 in the Collegiate Baseball poll, which was released earlier in the day on Monday.
Harvard, which is in the middle of a nine-game trip through central Florida, fell to 1-6 with the loss.
Despite the victory and the improved production on offense, Stetson coach Pete Dunn was less than pleased with the way his team played. The Hatters continued to struggle to deliver with runners in scoring position, was unable to execute on sacrifice attempts and had a couple of major base-running gaffs.
“We got some hits, but we certainly didn’t produce with runners in scoring position,” Dunn said. “Our base-running was terrible, we didn’t get bunts down when we needed them and we were lucky to win. I am happy to get the win, but I am certainly not happy with the way we played.
“These guys have to understand that if they continue to play like that as the season progresses, they are going to lose, and lose, and lose.”
Things were also far from perfect on the mound for the Hatters. Freshman starter Josh Powers looked more like a freshman in his third outing than he did in either of the first two. He lasted just two innings against the Crimson, allowing two runs on four hits with two walks.
“He is a freshman,” Dunn said. “He is certainly no freshman phenom, but he is a good, solid freshman pitcher that has a chance to be pretty good. His velocity wasn’t there tonight and he struggled with his command.”
Powers left the game in the third inning even though the Stetson offense produced a big second inning, scoring five times against Harvard starter Tanner Anderson, who did not escape the inning. The Crimson freshman surrendered six runs on five hits, but all six runs were unearned thanks to three early Harvard errors and a passed ball.
But, following the five-run second, the Hatters missed out on several other scoring chances. Stetson scored since runs in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings, but left a total of 13 runners on base in the game, including nine over the last four frames.
“Harvard kept coming at us, and you have to give them credit,” Dunn said. “Quite honestly, if we make decent contact at the plate with runners at third and less than two out, or with the bases loaded, it is a different game. Instead, we got the bats knocked out of our hands. You have to take advantage of those scoring opportunities, and we didn’t.”
Sophomore Austin Perez came in to pitch for Stetson after Powers faltered early. He was sharp early, striking out five of the first seven Harvard batters he faced, but then surrendered a pair of runs in the fifth on a two-out single by Ethan Ferreira, who was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit to extra bases.
Carlton Bailey led off the sixth inning with a homer and then Perez was chased after surrendering two more hits, which led to two Harvard runs, tying the game at 7-7.
Tucker Donahue (1-0) came on to close the door on the Crimson in the sixth, and then worked through a quiet seventh inning to get the win. Jake Boyd came on after Donahue surrendered a leadoff double in the eighth to squelch the threat and then Robbie Powell worked the ninth for his fifth save of the year.
The Hatters reclaimed the lead in the home half of the seventh when Robert Bruce led off with a double off Zack Olson (0-1) and then scored on a single by Spencer Theisen. The Hatters went on to load the bases with just one out, but were unable to add any insurance runs.
Stetson got an extra run on the board in the eighth when Mitchel Brennan led off with a triple and then scored on a Trey Blackman single. The Hatters appeared to have added another run in the inning when Theisen hit what would have been a triple to right center, but freshman Garrett Russini, running from first on the play, was ruled to have missed third base on appeal, erasing the run and ending the inning.
For the Hatters, Theisen, Brennan, Bruce and Mark Jones all had two hits each in the game. Every Stetson starter had at least one hit. Seeing Jones have some good at bats was a bit of encouragement for the head Hatter.
“When you are scuffling, you are always looking for that spark, and he put some pretty good swings on the ball and got a couple of hits,” Dunn said. “That is big because we are looking for bright spots when you are scuffling like that.”
Harvard, which out-hit Stetson 15-13 in the game, got three hits from Hack Colton and two each from Mike Martin, Jeff Reynolds, Ferreira, Bailey and Zach Boden.
The Hatters will be back in action this weekend when Rutgers comes to town for a three-game series.
“They are always one of the better teams in the Big East and they play awfully good baseball up there,” Dunn said. “I expect them to come in here and be awfully good. We had better get better quick because we only have a few days to address our short-comings and get our minds back on doing what we are capable of doing.”