|Hatters Split Pair With Mercer|
Macon, Ga. – Stetson coach Pete Dunn is looking for some consistency from his Hatters team, but did not get the kind of effort he wanted on Saturday in splitting a pair of games with Mercer.
The Bears took the opening game 7-4 before Stetson came back to take game two by a final of 7-6. The teams will meet again on Sunday at Claude Smith Field at 1 p.m. in the deciding game of the weekend series.
The biggest problem Dunn sees from his team is a lack of competitive fire offensively in key situations. For example, the Hatters grounded into a pair of double plays early in the first game on Saturday and had hitters strikeout with runners in scoring position and less than two out in two other innings.
“I was disappointed in the first game,” Dunn said. “We had some very non-competitive at bats in the first game, and it seems like those always come in the tightest situations. We had the bases loaded with less than two out when you need to have a competitive at bat, and we have guys getting out on called third strikes. There is just no excuse for that.”
Stetson left 10 runners on base in the opening game, which resulted in a second consecutive loss for junior Kurt Schluter (4-2), who allowed five earned runs over 5.1 innings of work. He had two bad innings that cost him the game. Mercer got a three-run homer from Logan Gaines in the second inning and then added two more runs in the third on a bases loaded walk to Evan Boyd and a sacrifice fly by Gaines.
Still, the Hatters had plenty of scoring chances, none better than in the top of the first when they got four consecutive one-out singles to plate a run and load the bases for Ryan Lashley. Stetson’s leading run producer grounded into a double play to end the scoring threat.
Stetson had two runners on against Mercer starter Brandon Love (3-3) in the third inning, but again saw a double play grounder, this one off the bat of Robert Crews, spoil a scoring chance. Mitchel Brennan led off the fourth with a double, but was left stranded at third by consecutive strikeouts.
Mark Jones cut the Stetson deficit to 5-2 with a solo homer in the fifth. The Hatters appeared ready to seize control in the sixth by loading the bases again with one out to chase Love from the game. The Bears turned to sidewinder David Teasley, who struck out Stetson pinch hitter Robert Bruce before getting a fly out to end the inning.
Mercer added insurance runs in the sixth and eighth innings while Stetson left runners on base in the seventh and eighth before scoring a pair of runs in the ninth on a single by Crews.
“We can not be successful if every one of us doesn’t compete on every at bat and on every pitch,” Dunn said. “You have to compete. We have some guys who I don’t know if they know how to compete yet. We have to find a way to teach them because nothing is going to be easy for this club. We are going to be in situations like this for a long time.”
The second game turned into a nail-biter late on the strength of one hitter for Mercer. Stetson built a 7-3 lead thanks to a four-run fifth inning that was capped by a three-run homer from Sam Kimmel. From there, the game turned into the Logan Gaines show.
The junior, who doubled and scored in the second inning after a two-hit, four-RBI performance in the opening game, blasted a solo homer off Stetson starter Lindsey Caughel (4-1) in the fifth inning, and then launched a two-run shot off Cameron Griffin in the seventh to cut the Stetson lead to 7-6.
“Nothing is easy with this club so far,” Dunn said. “I was wondering what would have happened if (Gaines) had come to the plate again in the ninth inning. I was probably going to walk him if I had the ability to do so.”
Fortunately for Stetson the duo of Jake Boyd and Robbie Powell left Gaines in the on-deck circle at the end of the game, recording the final seven outs while allowing just one runner to reach base. Powell earned his seventh save of the year by closing the door in the ninth.
“Our guys battled,” Dunn said of the second game. “That was my challenge to the team. We had some great, competitive, at bats in the second game. Robert Crews and Trey Blackman fouled off pitches until they got something to hit.”
Crews led Stetson with five hits on the day, driving in three runs. Ben Carhart also had three hits in the twin-bill. Gaines, who finished the day with five hits and seven RBI, was the only Mercer player with hits in both games.
The Hatters (17-9, 2-3) will try to even their Atlantic Sun Conference record on Sunday when they send senior right-hander Will Dorsey to the mound to face Mercer (17-11, 2-6) junior left-hander David Randall. Stetson will be looking for Dorsey to give a performance similar to the one he delivered last weekend against Belmont.
“If Will goes out and competes and pitches like he did at Belmont, we’ll be in great shape,” Dunn said. “That has been the thing with Will so far this year, his consistency. We know Will is a good pitcher because he has won for us for three years, but this year has been one good outing, one bad outing.
“We need another good outing tomorrow because I think that will pick the team up and give him some confidence that he is in a groove and can go out there every Sunday and pitch well.”