The win marked career victory No. 1,200 for Stetson coach Pete Dunn, who is in his 33rd season at his alma mater. The win was made sweeter by the pitching performance of freshman Josh Powers, who blanked the Buccaneers into the ninth inning to earn his second win of the week.
Powers (4-1) was also the winning pitcher on Wednesday when Stetson defeated No. 1 Florida State.
“I didn’t realize it, but that was number 1,200,” a smiling Dunn said. “Against a good club like ETSU, it is very satisfying, especially to send a freshman out there who wasn’t even supposed to pitch this weekend.”
Powers made his conference debut against the Bucs in place of injured junior Kurt Schluter. All he did was blank ETSU on just four hits with one walk and one strikeout. The Bucs managed to get just one runner as far as second base off the freshman.
His bid for a complete game ended with one out in the ninth when Andrew Green delivered a ground ball single up the middle.
“I went out there in the ninth and made my pitch and gave up a ground ball, it just found a hole,” Powers said. “I just threw strikes, pounded the zone, all day. I got ahead early and they hit some balls right at the defense.”
Powers said he was comfortable on the Thomas Stadium mound from the first inning.
“You get a feeling for the atmosphere of the game and know that, if you throw strikes the guys behind you are going to catch it,” Powers said. “In the seventh inning, when I walked the guy on four straight, I was a little frustrated. But, as soon as that happened, I got a ground ball double play to get out of it. From then on I felt good.”
The freshman needed just 90 pitches in his performance. Cameron Griffin came on in relief in the ninth and got a ground out before hitting Clinton Freeman to bring the potential winning run to the plate. Closer Robbie Powell was summoned to the mound and he closed the door by getting Kerry Doane to fly out to right.
It was one of 14 fly ball outs in the game for the Stetson pitchers. The save for Powell was his 17th of the season, one shy of the Atlantic Sun Conference record.
Dunn said the job Powers did was outstanding.
“He was supposed to go as long as he could against Florida State on Wednesday, but we didn’t tell him that he was going to have to pitch this weekend,” Dunn said. “He went two innings and, when we took him out, he was pretty mad. He came out and did a great job today.
“Grif came in and then Robbie finished it out like he has been doing all year. That is a good win and a big win. We have to keep winning. We don’t know if we can win this thing but, if we keep on winning, we may come close. All we can control is our own destiny right now.”
The Hatters didn’t generate much offense against ETSU starter John Long (6-6), who posted his fourth complete game this year, all losses. Stetson broke up a scoreless game by taking advantage of an ETSU error in the seventh and then added an insurance run in the eighth.
Mitchel Brennan double in Ben Carhart for the run in the seventh and then Robert Crews drove in Robert Bruce with a slow roller to first for the second run.
“We executed well and, in games like that, you have to execute,” Dunn said. “We got the bunt down when we needed to then got the base hit to get the first run. They we executed the hit and run to get runners to first and third.
“Crews got to two strikes pretty quickly, but he kept battling and fouling pitches off until he finally flicked a ball down the first base line to get the run in. That is execution and that is what wins close games.”
Brennan had a pair of doubles to lead Stetson while Sam Kimmel also had a pair of hits. Green had two of the four hits for ETSU.
“Mitchel is really swinging it well right now and is playing pretty good at first base as well,” Dunn said. “We didn’t plan for that, but he has stepped in and played a good first base for us.”
The Hatters will try to complete the weekend sweep on Sunday when Will Dorsey (6-5, 3.56) goes to the mound. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.