Columbia, S.C. - Stetson returned to Carolina Stadium Monday afternoon after a good night's sleep yet couldn't take advantage of the 16-hour weather delay and lost the NCAA Regional Championship game 8-2 to the defending national champion South Carolina Gamecocks. Stetson finished the season at 43-20 while the Gamecocks improved to 48-14 and now move on to host a Super Regional next week.
Mitchel Brennan (Orlando, Fla.) and Mark Jones (Bunnell, Fla.) were voted to the All-Regional Team at outfield and shortstop respectively.
On Sunday afternoon the Hatters defeated North Carolina State for the second time in the tournament and then took on USC in the nightcap. With Stetson down 4-1 in the fifth inning the game was delayed by a severe storm that blew through the area and knocked out power. Battered, bruised and exhausted from the extreme South Carolina heat, the Hatters were happy for the chance to take the rest of the night off and regroup.
With reliever Jake Boyd (West Palm Beach, Fla.) throwing well and holding the Gamecocks at bay, Stetson made a run in the seventh inning. Trey Blackman (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) and Sean Emory Miami, Fla.) led off with back-to-back singles and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Brennan. Jeff Simpson (Valrico, Fla.) was next and he walked to load the bases. Robert Crews (Port Charlotte, Fla.) picked up an RBI with a ground ball that turned into an errant throw by the third baseman.
South Carolina was on the ropes with the bases still loaded, one out and up by just two runs. USC closer Matt Price (Sumter, S.C.), however, was able to get Stetson's top two RBI men to fly out and ground out in the next two at bats. Price then held on for two more innings and earned his 17th save of the season.
Stetson totaled seven hits in the game, all singles, by seven different players. Crews and Nick Rickles (Loxahatchee, Fla.) each finished with an RBI.
Freshman lefty Austin Perez (Loxahatchee, Fla.) started the game yesterday and ended up suffering the loss today. He threw 4.1 innings allowing four runs on eight hits and struck out one batter. Boyd pitched courageously Monday yet could not hold back USC after the Stetson offense failed to take advantage in the seventh. USC scored four more runs in the top of the ninth with two of those runs charged to Boyd.
Cameron Griffin (Naples, Fla.) and Robbie Powell (Punta Gorda, Fla.) allowed the other two runs. Will Dorsey (Atlantic Beach, Fla.) finished up for the depleted Hatters' bullpen.
The team's 43 wins this season ties them for 3rd all-time at Stetson with the 2001 squad (43-17). The Hatters won 48 games (48-16) in 2000 and 46 games (46-13) in 1984. This was the 17th all-time appearance for Stetson in an NCAA Regionals and the first since 2007.
Seniors Jeff Simpson, Sean Emory and Justin Dechert played in their final game for the Hatters and will be missed next season.