|Stetson freshman first baseman Patrick Mazeika experienced all of the emotions of college baseball in one inning Saturday night as the Hatters let a victory slip through their fingers in the second game of a day-night double-header against Fairfield.
Stetson took the opening game of the day 5-1 before dropping the nightcap 8-7. The loss in the second game snapped Stetson’s five-game win streak and dropped the Hatters to 10-8 on the year. Fairfield improved to 4-9 on the season.
It was Mazeika who put the Hatters in position to sweep the twin-bill with an outstanding at bat in the Hatters’ seventh inning. The left-handed hitter battled against Fairfield’s tough lefty pitcher Tim Duggan, fouling off several pitches before lifting a two-out RBI single to right to put Stetson in front 5-4.
The Hatters added on two more runs in the inning and took a three-run lead into the bottom of the frame. That is when Mazeika experienced the other extreme.
“We just played poor enough to lose tonight,” Hatters coach Pete Dunn said. “It is the same as we have been doing all year. We scored four runs to take the lead and we let them come right back and tie it. You have to go out there and shut someone down after you have a big inning. We went right back out there and let them have three.”
After Stetson reliever Josh Thorne allowed three straight one-out hits, the third a pinch hit double by Keith Skinner to plate a run, the freshman appeared on the verge of getting out of the inning without further damage. He recorded a strikeout of Sal Ciccone and then got a routine ground ball to Mazeika at first.
A converted catcher who is playing first base for the first time in his career, Mazeika was unable to make a good throw to Thorne covering the bag. His errant toss allowed the Stags to score two runs to tie the game.
“You have to make the routine plays,” Dunn said. “Thorne made a great pitch and got a weak ground ball to first. All we have to do is make the flip to the pitcher, but we don’t handle the ball and let the tying run score.”
Fairfield went on to take the victory with a single run in the ninth inning. Billy Zolga led off with a double off Stetson’s Tyler Warmoth (0-2) and then scored on a single to left by Ciccone.
“We didn’t throw enough strikes early in the game and gave us some runs because of it. We walked a bunch of guys and let them score. The bottom line is you have to make the routine plays. We did some good things tonight but, to win consistently, everyone has to do good things and you have to minimize mistakes.”
The win for Fairfield snapped a seven game losing streak for the Stags.
“You have to give Fairfield credit because they kept coming back,” Dunn said. “We made some mistakes late in the game, but the bottom line is that we probably win the game if we make that play at first base.”
Senior Kyle Capaldo (1-2) blanked Stetson over the final three innings, holding the Hatters hitless and allowing just two base runners, one on a walk and the second on an error, to get the victory for Fairfield.
Game 1: Stetson 5, Fairfield 1
The Hatters produced all of the offense they needed in a four-run fifth inning and senior Joe Dye kept the visiting Stags at bay to help Stetson to their fifth consecutive victory.
Fairfield’s only run came in the second inning off Stetson starter Adam Schaly thanks to the first of two Hatters errors. That 1-0 lead stood up for Fairfield until the Hatters finally got things going.
Stetson took advantage of a Fairfield error in the sixth, and got RBI singles from James Rasmussen and Konner Lutz sandwiched around a two-run double by Carlos Garmendia. Lutz doubled in the final run of the night for the Hatters in the eighth inning.
Dye (2-0) came on in relief of Schaly in the sixth inning with two on base, but retired the side and then allowed just two base-runners, on a walk and an infield single, the rest of the way.
“Joe did a great job for us again, and that was a good win,” Dunn said.
EJ Ashworth (1-1) took the loss for Fairfield, allowing four runs on seven hits over 5.2 innings of work.
The Hatters and Stags will close out their four-game weekend series on Sunday afternoon with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. at Melching Field.