DeLAND—Garrett Russini’s bases loaded single in the bottom of the 10th inning gave Stetson a 3-2 win over Atlantic Sun Conference-leading Lipscomb in the opening game of their weekend series, Thursday at Melching Field.
The Hatters (15-24 overall, 4-9 A-Sun) redeemed themselves after wasting a similar opportunity in the bottom of the ninth. In the 10th, Patrick Mazeika started the rally by reaching on an error, Kyle Zech followed with a bunt single, and Tyler Bocock walked to load the bases with none out. Russni next bounced a 1-1 pitch into right field to score Mazeika with the winning run.
“You hope that a win like this jump starts you,” said head coach Pete Dunn. “We have to build on this or it’s a hollow victory. After having the opportunity to win it in the ninth and not coming through, that could have been a big let down for us. But we came back and won it. We know we can play a lot better than what we’ve been playing.”
Stetson trailed 2-0 after Lipscomb (24-15, 12-4) scored a pair of runs in the second, and the Bisons maintained their two-run lead until the Hatters scored twice in the eighth. Kyle Pitts reached on a one-out error and two batters later Robert Bruce laced an RBI triple into the right field corner to make it 2-1.
Mazeika immediately followed Bruce’s triple with a single up the middle, knotting the game at 2-2.
In the bottom of the ninth, Josh Powers singled and Kevin Fagan walked with one out, and Pitts reached on an error by the third baseman to load the bases. But Mike Fernland popped up after battling for a 12-pitch at-bat, and pinch-hitter K’Shawn Smith grounded out to send the game into extra innings.
Stetson relievers Kevin Fagan and Tyler Warmoth (1-2) combined for 8.2 shutout innings of work, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out 10. Fagan was forced into duty in the second inning after starting pitcher Kurt Schluter exited, and Warmoth relieved Fagan with one out in the seventh. Schluter was making his first start since Feb. 21.
“The plan was to get at least five innings out of Schluter and then go to Fagan and Warmoth to finish it,” said Dunn. “So using those two guys was by design, but not the way it played out. Those guys stepped up huge.”
The Hatters managed just eight hits against three Lipscomb pitchers, but they made the hits count. Bruce was 2-for-3 to lead Stetson.
Drew Adams was 3-for-5 for the Bisons. Lipscomb reliever Jason Ziegler (2-2) was tagged with the loss.
The Hatters and Bisons are scheduled to play game two of their series at 6:30 p.m., Friday.