JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Dolphins are back in the hunt. Jacksonville climbed back into contention in the Atlantic Sun Conference race with a key weekend series win behind a clutch two-out eighth inning single from senior Scott Schaub (Ocala, Fla.) for a 4-3 victory on Sunday over Kennesaw State.
Tied with the Owls in the A-Sun Conference standings at the start of the weekend the Dolphins now move a game ahead after taking their first league series this season.
Schaub’s hit capped off a 4-for-5 afternoon in which the senior third baseman scored a run and also stole a base.
Jacksonville (8-17; 3-6 A-Sun) held a 3-2 advantage into the top of the eighth when Kennesaw State (13-18; 2-7 A-Sun) took advantage of a pair of two out singles to even the score at 3-3.
Parker Perez (Winter Springs, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning then advanced to third on a sacrifice and a ground out. After Dylan Dillard (Kissimmee, Fla.) battled to earn a seven pitch walk, Schaub stepped up to deliver the game winning hit and knock in his team leading 16th RBI of the season.
“I knew a side-winder was throwing so I was looking for something up and not chase anything that wasn’t in the zone,” said Schaub who has already doubled his RBI production from a year ago. “I had a good feeling when I got two strikes and knew if I kept battling I could find a way to put it in the opposite field. We just needed to come away with the victory some how some way and I’m thankful my teammates gave me a chance to be that opportunity.”
Holding the 4-3 lead Jacksonville Head Coach Tim Montez whet to his closer Adam Maxon (Oviedo, Fla.) in the ninth. Maxon, who was making his 100th career appearance for the Dolphins, walked the first batter, before getting a strikeout for out number one. The Dolphins then took advantage of a batter’s interference call for out two. Another walk put two on for the Owls before Maxon closed the door on his fifth save of the year with another strikeout.
“After giving up the baserunner early Maxon came back and fought and that’s what you expect out of a senior,” Schaub said of Maxon’s second save in as many days. “That’s why he is our captain. He came in and did what we needed of him for two straight days so we could take the series.”
Junior righty Justin Russell (Jacksonville, Fla.) continued his Sunday success for the Dolphins on the mound. Russell earned the win, improving to 3-1 on the year, after allowing three runs on eight hits with six strikeouts in eight innings. The key moment for Russell can in the top of the second with Kennesaw State leading 1-0. The Owls were threatening again putting runners on second and third with only one out. Russell, who is now 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA in five Sunday starts, didn’t give in however getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the frame and keep the Dolphins within a run.
The momentum carried into the bottom half of the inning as a RBI senior Braddock Rowe (Jacksonville, Fla.) scored Schaub and tied the game up at 1-1. Rowe finished his day going 2-for-3 with a run scored and the RBI.
A home run down the left field line by preseason All-American catcher Max Pentecost put Kennesaw on top 2-1 in the third. The Dolphins tied it up on the bottom of the inning when Angelo Amendolare (Edgewater, Fla.) stole third then advance home on a throwing error by Pentecost. Perez gave JU the 3-2 lead in the next inning with a RBI ground out for his eighth RBI in the last six games.
Amendolare and Michael Babb (Jacksonville, Fla.) also had two hits each for the Dolphins.
“You could tell yesterday that we came out with the positive energy even after waiting out the rain delay,” said Schaub who is now hitting .397 on the year. “We continued that into today and kept feeding off each other. We wanted it more you could tell with the way we battled and executed at the plate. This is a huge win for us in that it puts us back in the middle of the pack. Plus we have some momentum now going into the UNF series next weekend.”
Jacksonville is back in action on Tuesday at Georgia Southern before returning to Sessions Stadium on Wednesday to host the College of Charleston. The Dolphins then continue A-Sun play next weekend at North Florida. Wednesday’s game and all three games at North Florida can be heard on 92.5 FM.