JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University (5-3) led by as much three runs against #5 Florida State University (6-2), but costly errors in the eighth inning allowed the Seminoles to escape John Sessions Stadium with a 6-5 victory over the Dolphins Tuesday night.
"This was a very competitive ball game. We had two good teams that got after each other," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "In the end it's all about execution. If we execute, we win this game very comfortably. If we don't execute, we end up on the other side. Nevertheless, I'm proud of the guys' effort and competiveness even when things went a little sideways for us in the eighth. They were resilient and kept competing. Mike Cassala fought through the adversity and Tyler Santana gave us a chance at the end."
JU opened the scoring in the bottom of the first. Nathan Koslowski was walked in the leadoff spot, and was advanced to second on a bunt single by Connor Stephens. Koslowski then made it home safely on an RBI single from Angel Camacho that put Stephens on third with just one out. But a strikeout and a groundout ended the Dolphin threat. After one JU led 1-0.
Casey Kulina held Florida State scoreless for the first three innings, allowing just three hits to the Seminoles while striking out five. JU scored twice more in the second on a two RBI single by Koslowski that scored John Cassala and Scott Dubrule, and after three JU led 3-0.
Florida State began to crawl back into the game in the fourth inning thanks to a solo homer on the first pitch of the inning and an RBI sac bunt with runners on first and third. The Dolphin bats responded with a 1-2-3 inning, and after four JU led 3-2.
Spencer Stockton struck out two Seminoles in the fifth inning, but also allowed the third Florida State run to score after a leadoff double to center and an RBI single to left field. JU was held scoreless again in the bottom of the inning, and after five, the score was knotted 3-3. Neither team managed to score in the sixth inning as Stockton notched his third and fourth strikeouts.
Jacksonville broke the tie in the bottom of the seventh on a leadoff double from Mike Cassala, who was then advanced by Dubrule on a single and scored on a wild pitch that bounced out of play and into the stands. Another wild pitch put Mike's twin John Cassala in scoring position, and Koslowski drove him home on an RBI double. After seven JU led 5-3.
Three errors in the top of the eighth allowed three runs for the Seminoles to take a 6-5 lead, and JU couldn't put any more across in the final two innings. The final: #5 FSU 6, JU 5
"You never like to end up on the losing side of it, but ultimately it's a great lesson for our team," said Hayes. "Credit to the Seminoles for taking advantage of our mistakes and the opportunities we gave them."