DeLand, Fla. - After scoring three runs in the bottom of the 6th inning to take a 3-1 lead and then allowing the Ospreys a pair in the top of the 8th, the Hatters came up with three more runs in the bottom half of the 8th to win the A-Sun series opener 6-3. First place Stetson, ranked No. 17 in the nation by Baseball America, improved to 32-10 overall and 15-4 in conference play. UNF, who came into the game tied for third place, fell to 23-16 overall and 12-10 in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Jeff Simpson (Valrico, Fla.) and Nick Rickles (Loxahatchee, Fla.) each had two hits for the Hatters, yet it was a double by Spencer Theisen (Longwood, Fla.) that keyed the victory for the home team.
Stetson's 8th inning rally began with two outs on the board. Mark Jones (Bunnell, Fla.) jump started the rally with a single to center field and then stole second base, his 12th of the season (12 for 12). Ryan Lashley (Lake Worth, Fla.) followed with a walk and then Trey Blackman (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Theisen was next and he took a 2-and-2 pitch and laced the Hatters' only extra base hit of the game deep down the right field line scoring two. An RBI infield single by Robert Bruce (Sarasota, Fla.) completed the scoring for the home team.
"Defensively we didn't do very well tonight but we overcame our mistakes", said Stetson head coach Pete Dunn. "Mark got the base hit with two outs to start it and then Spencer came up with the big hit. It's a good win; that was a great win."
Freshman hurler Austin Perez (Loxahatchee, Fla.) had a Friday night conference-series start for the second time this season and for the second time he pitched well, left the game with a lead, and did not get credit for a win. On April 8 he tossed five innings against Kennesaw State allowing just one run, striking out five and leaving with a 2-1 lead. Jake Boyd (West Palm Beach, Fla.) ended up with the win. Tonight Perez took it up another notch throwing a season-high seven innings, allowing one run and striking out a career-high nine batters. He left the game with a 3-1 lead, yet once again it was Boyd who ended up with the win after allowing two runs, one earned on two hits and striking out one. Boyd is now 5-0 on the season. Robbie Powell (Punta Gorda, Fla.) threw the final inning and earned his 7th save of the season.
"The guy [Perez] has got guts", said Dunn. "We found out today that Schluter and Caughel would not be able to go this weekend so we gave A.P. the ball and he goes out there and gives us seven innings. He may have been able to go more but we felt it was time to get him out of there. Man he did a great job for us."
UNF Starter Robbie Collier (Jacksonville, Fla.) also pitched well striking out nine Hatters over 6.2 innings. He allowed three runs, two of which were unearned. Reliever Chandler Jagodzinski (Orlando, Fla.) suffered the loss and fell to 1-1 after giving up all three runs in the 8th.
Stetson and UNF will be back at Melching Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Stetson fans can see the games on Hatter Vision at GoHatters.com with Bill Topping calling the action. Tickets for home games are available at the gate or can be purchased online at GoHatters.com or by calling 738-HATS.