DeLand, Fla. - Stetson pulled out another nail-biter and completed a weekend sweep with a 3-2 win over Mercer Sunday afternoon at Melching Field. Sophomore Ryan Lashley (Lake Worth, Fla.) picked up his second game-winning RBI in as many days and fellow sophomore Joe Dye (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) secured his first career victory against no losses after tossing one third of an inning and striking out the final batter of the 8th.
Stetson, ranked #30 by Collegiate Baseball, has now won four games in a row and has improved to 16-4 overall and 5-1 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Mercer fell to 14-8 on the season and is now 4-5 in league play.
"Boy I'll tell you what we battled, we battled today and our pitchers did a tremendous job", said Stetson head coach Pete Dunn. "We just beat a very, very good ball club. If we both keep playing like we did this weekend I suspect we will see them again in the conference tournament. No doubt about that."
"I told the guys last night they need to be proud of that win and we need to be proud of all three of these wins. That is the ball club that won the conference championship last year and many picked to win it this year", he added.
Each game the series was a close battle between two of the top teams in the A-Sun, and all three ended up as one-run wins for the Hatters. Sunday's finale once again came down to some key plays in the final moments and none was bigger than the final play of the game. With two outs and runners on second and third Derrick Workman (Acworth, Ga.) ripped a hard grounder just fair down the first base line. Lashley, the starting shortstop who had moved over to play first, made a full-extension dive, rose to his feet and shoveled the ball to pitcher Jake Boyd (West Palm Beach, Fla.) for the out. Lashley turned what looked like a certain double and a one-run deficit into a spectacular play and a Stetson win.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a Jeff Simpson (Valrico, Fla.) single, stolen base, Bear error and a wild pitch, Stetson was on top most of the game thanks to an excellent pitching performance by Tucker Donahue (Coral Springs, Fla.). In just the second start of his career, Donahue tossed seven innings allowing five hits and striking out one batter. Mercer was finally able to catch up to him for a hit and a walk in the 8th inning that resulted in two runs and a 2-1 lead for the visitors.
The Hatters responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the 8th. Ben Carhart (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) led off with a double to right field and then scored on a triple to right center by Mark Jones (Bunnell, Fla.). Jones scored the go-ahead run when Lashley stepped in next and delivered a sacrifice fly deep to right field.
Mercer reliever David Teasley (Elberton, Ga.) threw the final two thirds of an inning and fell to 3-2 on the season after suffering the loss.
Both Lashley and Simpson finished the game with two hits for Stetson. Robbie Powell (Punta Gorda, Fla.), Cameron Griffin (Naples, Fla.), Dye, and Austin Perez (Loxahatchee, Fla.) combined for 1.1 innings of scoreless relief and Boyd pitched the final two-thirds and earned his second save of the season.
"Good clubs find ways to win one-run games", said Dunn. "This was another team effort today. Once again everybody stepped up and did his job. We have a good roster as far as depth and have been able to overcome some injuries and get the job done", said Dunn
The Hatters will return to Melching Field on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to take on Bethune-Cookman. Stetson fans can see the game on Hatter Vision at GoHatters.com with Bill Topping calling the action. Tickets are available at the gate or can be purchased online at GoHatters.com or by calling 738-HATS.