DeLAND, Fla. – Nathan Disch and Casey Kulina limited Stetson to just one run and Jacksonville defeated the Hatters, 2-1, Saturday at Melching Field to clinch its seventh consecutive Atlantic Sun series win.
"That was a good college baseball game that was well pitched with good defense on both sides," Head Coach Tim Montez. "Hats off to Disch and Kulina, who graduated today and it looks like he's back and even better."
Jacksonville (27-14) moved to 9-2 in Atlantic Sun play and extended its winning streak to five games while Stetson (20-23) fell to 4-7 in the conference. The Dolphins surpassed last season's win total, and are one game behind Kennesaw State for the A-Sun lead. .
Jacksonville began the ninth with a JJ Gould single on a 3-2 pitch, who found his way to third base thanks to a throwing error by Walker Sheller (2-2) on a failed pickoff attempt. With the infield playing in, freshman Connor Stephens struck a bouncing ball past short for the game-winning RBI single.
Dolphins' starter Disch was efficient through five innings with just 48 pitches thrown. He ran into slight trouble in the sixth with a leadoff walk to Colton Lightner, the only base-on-balls issued by the junior, and Lightner would later score on a Cory Reid sacrifice fly to center. Disch left the leading run stranded at third to end his day. He gave up the one run on five hits, walked one and struck out five in his six frames.
Kulina, who along with Michael Babb and Nate Ricci graduated from Jacksonville in the morning, entered in the seventh and only let one batter reach over his three innings when John Fussell singled in the ninth. Kulina (2-0) worked three shutout innings and picked up two strikeouts in the win.
"In the ninth, 99% of the time that is going to be Mike Cassala's save situation, but Casey was in a nice rhythm and flow," said Montez
"Graduation was great to celebrate with your teammates, and being able to translate that onto the field by staying together and grinding it out says a lot about the guys that we have," said Kulina.
Sheller was billed with the loss after allowing the one run off two hits in 3.1 innings. He walked two batters and struck out four. Hatter starter Ben Onyshko had seven strikeouts and allowed six hits in five innings.
Jacksonville scored its first run of the night in the fourth. Angel Camacho lifted a leadoff double to left to start the inning. Sam Armstrong reached safely on a bunt, and Camacho raced to third. After a Franco Guardascione popup, Dakota Julylia sacrifice flied to right and Camacho scored to give JU a one-run edge.
Gould charged the Dolphin offense with four of the team's nine hits. The total matches a career-high for the senior captain. The Dolphins left 14 runners on-base.
"We had some early opportunities that we didn't execute. We've got to clean that up because it will come back to bite us," said Montez.
Jacksonville looks for its second consecutive series sweep with a 1:00 p.m. start tomorrow.