DeLand, Fla. - The Stetson baseball team completed a series sweep of the University of Georgia with an 8-4 victory Sunday afternoon on Melching Field. It is the first time the Hatters have opened the season at 3-0 since 2002 when they won their first eight games. Stetson (3-0) avenged its three losses to Georgia (0-3) last season in Athens and is now 6-8 all-time against the Bulldogs.
Kurt Schluter (Jupiter, Fla.) gave the Hatters their 3rd consecutive quality start by tossing five complete innings with five strike outs and allowing just one run and one walk. He is now 1-0 on the season. Jake Boyd pitched the final 1.1 innings without giving up a hit or a run and picked up his first save.
"Sweeping an SEC club is extremely hard to do. I never would have predicted a sweep, but I really feel our kids were prepared for the weekend. They were mentally prepared and felt really confident", said Stetson head coach Pete Dunn. "Of course that first win the first night really enhanced our confidence. One weekend series does not a season make, but certainly you have to start somewhere and that's an awfully good start."
With the score tied 1-1 heading into the bottom of the 3rd inning Stetson jumped on Georgia starter Alex Wood (Charlotte, N.C.) for a pair of runs and went ahead to stay. Jeff Simpson (Valrico, Fla.) and Spencer Theisen (Longwood, Fla.) reached on a walk and a single and then both scored on a clutch single to left field by Mark Jones (Bunnell, Fla.).
The two runs in the 3rd put the Hatters ahead, yet a four-run bottom of the 6th slammed the door on the Bulldogs. An RBI single through the left side by Sean Emory (Miami, Fla.) and a 2-RBI single to left center by Robert Crews (Port Charlotte, Fla.) were the key hits of the inning.
Georgia did manage to tally a trio of unearned runs on one play in the top of the 8th, yet it was not enough to get the Bulldogs back into the game. Stetson added one more run in the bottom of the inning after Trey Blackman (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) doubled down the left field line, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Rickles (Loxahatchee, Fla.), and then scored on a wild pitch.
Blackman finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored, Emory was 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Crews was 1-for-4 with a pair of RBI.
In total for the weekend the Stetson pitching staff allowed just six earned runs over 27 innings and struck out 17 batters while walking just six.
"We had three quality starts this weekend. That's huge and our bullpen did an awfully good job also. We pitched out of jams. They had some chances to put together some big innings and we pitched our way out of them. We are very pleased. It was a team effort and we made some big plays when we needed them. Our kids were heads up", said Dunn.
Next for the Hatters is a short trip to Daytona Beach to take on Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday, February 23 at 6:00 p.m. Stetson fans can hear the game on Hatter Vision at GoHatters.com with Bill Topping calling the action. Tickets for Stetson home games are available at the gate or can be purchased online at GoHatters.com or by calling 738-HATS.