Stetson rode another strong pitching performance from junior Kurt Schluter and members of the bullpen and some timely hitting to blank Rutgers 3-0 on Friday night at Melching Field.
The 14th ranked Hatters improved to 14-3 on the season with the win while Rutgers falls to 7-8.
Schluter turned in his best performance so far of the season, holding the Scarlet Knights to four hits over seven innings to earn his 15th consecutive victory. With Troy’s Tyler Ray losing on Friday night, Schluter (4–0) now owns the longest win streak in Division I baseball.
“That is a good ball club and they have been on a roll,” Hatters coach Pete Dunn said of Rutgers. “They took two of three from Florida Atlantic and two of two from Florida Gulf Coast, and those are two good clubs. We beat an awfully good club today.
Schluter struck out seven and walked just three in his outing, but left the game in the hands of the Stetson bullpen after throwing a season-high 111 pitches. The trio of Jake Boyd, Cameron Griffin and Robbie Powell took care of the rest.
“Schluter went out and gave us seven quality innings,” Dunn said. “Jake got into a little bit of a bind, but fielded the bunt and got the guy at the plate. Grif came in and is throwing well right now. He got a big strikeout. Robbie came in and did what he does.”
Stetson’s offense came on a pair of hits by Mitchel Brennan and one from Ben Carhart. Brennan singled in Ryan Lashley, who had doubled to lead off the fifth off Rutgers starter Ryan Fasano (3-0). Brennan then blasted a solo homer off Fasano with two-out in the seventh. Carhart’s two-out single in the eighth inning plated Spencer Theisen.
Rutgers did not go down quietly late. The Knights got a leadoff double by Nick Favatella off Boyd in the eighth inning, which was followed by a single to shallow right by Jeff Melillo, giving runners at first and third with no one out in a 2-0 game.
Veteran Rutgers coach Fred Hill called for a squeeze bunt, but Boyd fielded the ball off the bat of DH Charlie Law and threw Favatella out at home. After getting a ground ball to get the second out, Griffin came on and struck out a Rutgers pinch hitter to end the threat.
After Stetson pushed the lead to 3-0, Rutgers had to change its approach against Powell, who earned his sixth save of the year, in the ninth.
“With two old-timers coaching, I knew they were going to go up there looking to coax walks, because you can’t hit a three-run homer until you get two guys on,” Dunn said. “Robbie got behind a little, but came back and got the first strikeout. We made an error but were able to overcome it.”
Stetson finished with nine hits in the game, but Dunn was encouraged by the approach the Hatters showed at the plate.
“We didn’t wear it out offensively, but we did put some hits together and we got them at good times,” Dunn said. “We made a couple of base-running mistakes, and I am never happy with that. I detest base-running mistakes more than anything, but we dodged that bullet and are very happy with came up with the win.”
Schluter said he had confidence that the Stetson hitters would get enough runs to win the game because the impact a Friday win has on the entire weekend.
“It is important to get off to a good start on Friday night,” Schluter said. “I felt pretty good, but I can’t take all the credit. The guys just kept scratching away at it until they were able to score some runs.”
Dunn said he knows his team will hit.
“Hitting is contagious, and so are slumps,” Dunn said. “As a team, we have been in a collective slump. Hopefully we can stay with it. With pitching like this, you are always going to be in the game. We have guys who aren’t putting up the numbers they are capable of, but they are going to come out of it and, when they do, if our pitching holds up, we will be a pretty good club.”
Brennan was the only Stetson player with more than one hit while Favatella had two hits to lead Rutgers.
The Hatters and Scarlet Knights will continue their weekend series on Saturday, with game time set for 2 p.m. Live Stats and Hatter Vision are available at GoHatters.com.
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