JU (22-21, 11-9) scored six runs through three innings and held a 7-1 advantage going into the seventh but KSU (20-27, 9-11) scored a run in the seventh and eighth before plating six in the ninth.
“I’m not going to dwell on what happened because it’s over,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “We needed to win this weekend to solidify a spot in the tournament. Now we have to take the hard road and win games against two of the top teams in order to make it. We have done it before, but it’s not going to be easy.”
The Owls started off the ninth with a base hit and a walk before a passed ball and a base hit cut the deficit to 7-5. After a base hit and a hit batsman loaded the bases with two outs, Hart hit a fly ball over the left field wall to give KSU its first lead in the contest.
Senior Glenn Witkowski (2-6) was charged with the loss after allowing two runs on one hit in 0.1 innings of relief. Junior Matt Loosen got the no-decision after allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits with five walks and four strikeouts in eight innings.
Bryan Blough (2-3) got the win after hurling an inning of shutout relief. Brad Long notched his third save by throwing a perfect ninth inning. Zak Griffith got the no-decision after allowing seven runs (five earned) on 13 hits with two walks and five strikeouts in seven innings.
Freshman centerfielder Dan Gulbransen led the Dolphin offense by going 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Junior shortstop Jamaal Hawkins also went 3-for-4 with two double and two RBI. Sophomore left fielder Jonathan Murphy and sophomore third baseman Jimmy Howick each finished with two hits in the contest.
Drew Fowlkes went 2-for-5 with home run and two RBI while Ronnie Freeman and Sean McClurken also tallied two hits apiece for the Owls.
JU took a 1-0 lead in the first when Gulbransen hit an RBI single back up the middle.
The Dolphins increased the lead to 5-0 in the second when Murphy drove in a run with an infield hit toward the third-base line, Hawkins hit a two-run double to left center and Gulbransen hit an RBI double to left center.
JU increased the lead to 6-0 in the third when freshman designated hitter Adam Brett Walker led off the inning with a double and later scored on a throwing error by Owl first baseman Ross Tendler, who was attempting to throw to second on a pick-off of senior second baseman Chuck Opachich.
The Owls cut the deficit to 6-1 in the fourth when Fowlkes hit an RBI single through the right side.
The Dolphins made it 7-1 in the sixth when Hawkins scored from second on a single to short by Gulbransen.
KSU cut the margin to 7-2 in the seventh when Ray Anderson hit an RBI single up the middle with two outs.
The Owls made it 7-3 in the eighth when Fowlkes led off the inning with a solo homer to center.
JU will next play a home-and-home series with UCF beginning on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Orlando, Fla. The contest can be heard live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan calling all of the action or through live stats by logging onto JUDolphins.com.