JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University (6-6) won the series finale against Valparaiso University (4-5) in an error-free, 6-3 victory. Spencer Stockton pitched four and a third innings of relief to earn his first win of the season, and Nathan Koslowski had three hits and two RBI.
"With Casey coming back on short rest, it was time to make the move and Spencer was ready. Thank goodness for Spencer Stockton," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "When you're on a bit of a losing streak the way we were, even though we were playing well, it takes a monumental effort to stop a losing streak and Spencer and Nathan gave us that effort. Koslowski had three hits and two RBI in as good a day as he's had this year. They allowed us to stop this losing streak."
Casey Kulina got the start Sunday on short rest, but pitched brilliantly in the first three innings, collecting four strikeouts with a no-hitter through nine batters. Then Valpo batters started finding pitches they liked, and Kulina was forced to retire after three runs scored in the top of the fourth. Stockton relieved Kulina and threw a herculean effort, allowing just one hit through four and a third. Mike Cassala relieved Stockton in the ninth and struck out two to get the save.
"Casey came out a little bit earlier than expected and it was a tight game that I needed to extend just a bit," said Stockton. "I tried to get early contact. I wanted to get the defense involved and pick up the pace, because then the bats usually get going. Koslowski is a great offensive threat and is really good in right field as well. He had two line drives that are difficult to catch, and he made it look easy. It's great to have a guy like that."
While the Dolphin pitchers subdued the Crusader bats, JU's offense got to work immediately. Koslowski doubled in the leadoff spot in the first, and was then brought home on Mike Cassala's double to almost the same spot in left field. After one JU led 1-0.
The Dolphins put two more across in the third inning. Alex Seifert collected a leadoff walk, then was doubled home by Koslowski a pitch after the veteran right fielder thought he was walked. Koslowski advanced on a balk, and then scored on an RBI single from Sam Armstrong. After three JU led 3-0.
Four singles in the top of the fourth allowed Valpo to tie the game at 3 apiece, and JU couldn't capitalize on Ruben Someillan's single to short in the bottom of the inning to retake the lead. After four the game was tied 3-3.
Koslowski reached base for the third time after being struck by a pitch in the bottom of the fifth, but was thrown out at third on a fielder's choice that put Mike Cassala on first and Scott Dubrule on second. Armstrong was also hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out, and John Cassala hit a deep sac fly that scored Dubrule. JU retook the lead, 4-3, heading into the sixth.
Neither team scored in the sixth or seventh, and though Stockton allowed a hit in the eighth, the Dolphins successfully caught the runner as he tried to steal third. Connor Stephens drew a seven-pitch walk, and Angel Camacho smacked a single past third base to advance Stephens. Stephens then got caught trying to steal third, but Camacho took his place on second on the throw. Freshman outfielder Someillan doubled Camacho home, and Someillan was plated by Koslowski's third hit of the game. After eight JU led 6-3, which proved to be the final score as Mike Cassala collected his second save of the year.