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Robert Crews gets mobbed by teammates after his game-winning single in the ninth inning on Saturday.
by: Jim Hogue Photos
Hatters Storm Past Rutgers 4-3 on St. Paddy’s Day
Courtesy: Stetson University  
Release:  03/17/2012
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Stetson senior Robert Crews delivered a dramatic two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday at Melching Field to cap an improbable four-run rally as the Hatters downed Rutgers 4-3 on St. Patrick’s Day.

For much of the day, the team wearing green was unable to generate anything offensively, and the Hatters’ luck had appeared to run out when they left the bases loaded in the eighth inning without scoring. But the bottom of the Stetson batting order got things going in the ninth, setting the stage for Crews’ game-winning hit.

“I would like to tell you that we earned that win all the way, but we didn’t,” Hatters coach Pete Dunn said. “That is baseball. I won’t say that is one of our best games, but it may be one of our best wins.”

Stetson, which entered the weekend ranked 14th in the Collegiate Baseball poll, improved to 15-3 with the victory while Rutgers falls to 7-9 on the year. The teams will play the final game of their weekend series on Sunday at noon, an hour earlier that originally scheduled to accommodate travel for the Scarlet Knights.

Before Crews came to the plate in the ninth inning, the Hatters had already put two runs on the board against Rutgers reliever Jerry Elsing (0-1). Stetson caught a break on a slow roller to second off the bat of Spencer Theisen when Rutgers’ Nick Favatella double-clutched on his flip to shortstop Pat Sweeney, who had already crossed the bag by the time he got the ball, allowing a run to score and leaving the bases loaded.

That brought Crews to the plate with the chance to be the hero.

Dunn said the entire inning was set up by the Stetson hitters doing whatever it took to reach base, allowing him to turn Crews loose at the end.

“We told them, and we preach it all the time, to get on base any way that you can,” Dunn said. “We had been taking pitches and taking pitches until we got to that point. I told him when he went up there that any time he was ready, which means he could go up there and swing. We had gotten two runs in and had the winning run at second base, so we didn’t want to take the bat out of his hands. He is a good hitter and did what good hitters do.”

When Crews stepped in against 6-foot-8 right-hander Charlie Law, he was looking fastball all the way.

“I was definitely looking for the fastball because I knew he had to try to get ahead,” Crews said. “His best pitch was his fastball and I was ready for it, I just got a little bit in front of it.”

After missing on the first swing, Crews worked the count into his favor until he got another fastball on a 3-1 pitch, and drove in through the left side of the infield, scoring Darby McCormick from third with the tying run and Tanner Blackman, who pinch-ran for Robert Bruce, from second with the game-winner.

Covered with shaving cream following the post-game celebration, Crews said he hopes the way the Hatters won will get the offense going back in the right direction.

“Offensively, I think this will help us turn it around,” Crews said. “We have really been struggling at the plate. We’ve had several games where we have had less than five hits. To be able to have that kind of inning and come away with a win is huge. The pitching staff kept us in there by just giving up three runs. We needed this win pretty bad.”

The Hatters most-likely would not have been in position to win in the bottom of the ninth if it had not been for the job senior Tucker Donahue (2-0) did on the mound in the eighth inning.

Rutgers was threatening to blow the game open after having loaded the bases with one out on a single, a hit-batter and an error against relief pitcher Joe Dye. Donahue came in and struck out Rutgers’ leadoff hitter, Brian O’Grady, before getting Favatella to fly out to left to end the threat.

“Tucker pitched well. They had the bases loaded with one out when he came on in the eighth, and they could have padded the lead and taken the game from us right there, but Tucker came in and got a punch out and a fly ball to get out of it. He did a nice job.”

The Scarlet Knights built their lead in the game by scoring single runs in the first, second and sixth innings against Stetson starter Lindsey Caughel. The first run scored on a double-play grounder, the second on a single by Bill Hoermann, and the third on a single by Joe D’Annunzio after an error extended the inning.

Caughel allowed those three runs, two earned, on eight hits over 6.0 innings while walking just one and striking out seven.

Rutgers starter Rob Smorol was just a little better than Caughel. He shut the Hatters out for seven innings, allowing just four hits while walking one and striking out three.

“Their left-hander, Smorol, did a great job,” Dunn said. “We are going to see some good left-handers in the conference, starting next week. We needed to see a good left-hander like this. We hung around against him and gave ourselves a chance to tie or win late in the game.”

The Hatters let scoring chances slip away in both the seventh inning against Smorol and in the eighth inning against reliever Charlie Lasky. Stetson had runners at second and third with one out in the seventh, but Smorol got Mark Jones to ground out before striking out Mitchel Brennan to end the threat.

Stetson loaded the bases with one out against Lasky in the eighth, but the sophomore right-hander struck out both Sam Kimmel and Ben Carhart to end the Hatters’ scoring threat.

“We just kind of floundered around out there all day,” Dunn said. “We pitched well enough to win, but then we had the eighth inning turnaround, and that was a really disappointing inning. We had the guys up there that you would want, and the last thing you need is for guys to leave the bat on their shoulder in those situations.

“I was glad to see some of the young guys come up in big situations. Darby got on base twice and Robert Bruce had a big hit after having a good approach. It is important for this team for those young guys, who haven’t played a whole lot, is to get them in there and let them step up big and gain some confidence.”

Crews led the Hatters with three hits in the game while Rutgers got two hits each from Favatella, Patrick Kivlehan, Steve Zavala and Hoermann.

“As an offensive team we are struggling a little bit,” Crews said. “I am glad we were able to win a game like that because that allowed us to come off the field and have a lot of confidence going into the game tomorrow.”

Stetson Baseball