JACKSON, Miss. - Five hits, including an RBI single for John Cassala, were not enough for Jacksonville as the Dolphins (0-1) suffered their first loss of the season, 5-2, Friday against Morehead State in a neutral site game at the Jackson State Invitational.
"Things didn't go our way tonight," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "Disappointed in the result, but I'm pleased with how we competed. We were in it until the final pitch. You've gotta give their pitcher a lot of credit. He did a good job of mixing pitches and locations, and really kept us off balance all night. When a guy is throwing like that, we have to take advantage of our opportunities, and we weren't able to do so tonight."
The Eagles (1-0) opened the scoring in the top of the first inning with a homer off Michael Baumann, but the veteran stayed solid through the rest of the inning, forcing two groundouts and a strikeout to strand two Morehead runners. The Dolphins would go 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, and after one it was Morehead State 1, Jacksonville 0.
Baumann locked in for the next three innings, allowing just two hits as he earned a second strikeout and forced eight groundouts. The Dolphins' offense would fail to capitalize though, and after four the score remained Morehead State 1, Jacksonville 0.
Morehead struck again in the top of the fifth. The leadoff batter was hit by a pitch, then advanced to second on a sac bunt and got to third on a wild pitch. A single up the middle drove the Eagle runner across, and two more singles drove another run home to put the score at 3-0. Baumann made it four and two-thirds innings in his debut before being switched out for Tyler Santana with runners on first and second. The freshman would load the bases on a hit by pitch, then force a groundout to end the Eagle threat. Heading into the bottom of the fifth it was Morehead State 3, Jacksonville 0.
The Dolphin bats started to wake up in the bottom of the fifth; a single from veteran third-baseman Sam Armstrong earned the Dolphins their first base runner, and a second single from Mike Cassala advanced Armstrong to third. A wild pitch drew first blood for the Dolphins, putting Armstrong across and Cassala on second. But consecutive strikeouts closed the inning, and JU stranded Cassala. After five, the score was Morehead State 3, Jacksonville 1.
Santana was relieved at the top of the sixth by senior Casey Kulina, who promptly sat down the Eagles in a 1-2-3 inning. Scott Dubrule led off strongly in the bottom of the inning with a single up the middle, but a double play and a lineout kept JU from putting any more across. After six, the score remained Morehead State 3, Jacksonville 1.
The long ball again hurt the Dolphins in the top of the seventh. Kulina struck out the first batter, then allowed a home run and a single before closing the inning with a fly out and a swinging strikeout. The Dolphins could not respond, and the lead stretched to MSU 4, JU 1 after seven.
The Eagles scored once more in the top of the eighth on an RBI double with two outs, forcing a switch from Kulina to Shane Wise. The junior righty closed the inning with a groundout to first, but Morehead State now led 5-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth.
Morehead's starting pitcher, Aaron Leasher, was relieved by David Calderon, who promptly walked Mike Cassala and allowed a single to Chris Gau. Mike's twin brother John Cassala hit a single to the shortstop to drive his brother across and put runners on first and second with no outs. Calderon was replaced by All-OVC reliever Cable Wright, who sat down the next three batters to end the inning. The score after eight: Morehead State 5, Jacksonville 2
Wise loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth on two singles and a walk, then stranded all three runners on a pop fly and two strikeouts after a chat with Hayes. Jacksonville got Connor Stephens on second with a walk and a wild pitch, but stranded him to end the game. The final: Morehead State 5, Jacksonville 2