DELAND, Fla. - A heartbreaking end to Jacksonville's season came at the hands of Florida Gulf Coast (42-18), as the Eagles rallied to win both games in the ASUN Baseball Championship Final Saturday, 4-2 and 4-3 in 10 innings.
"There is not a single one of those guys who should be holding their head down," said Head Coach Chris Hayes.
Mike Cassala started game one for Jacksonville (36-24), and the sophomore battled through a career high 5.1 in his fourth career start. After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the third, Jacksonville pushed across a run to tie it in the bottom half on Nathan Koslowski's RBI single. Evan Fernandez hit a solo shot the following inning and Jacksonville led until FGCU brought in three in the top of the sixth to take a lead they would never relinquish.
Matt Meyer worked his third scoreless relief outing of the tournament, tossing 3.2 innings of two-hit baseball to keep it close, but JU struggled to string together hits. The Dolphins were held to just seven base knocks after racking up double digits the first three games of the tournament.
Chris Gau started game two, making his second appearance of the tournament after having his Wednesday start vs. Lipscomb cut short due to weather. Gau was magnificent, racking up nine strikeouts and foiling the FGCU bats all day.
Offensively, Jacksonville used the "National League-style" of play that has become so synonymous for the Dolphins over the last few years to stretch across its runs. The leadoff man reached three times over the first seven innings, and came in to score each time after being sacrificed over. It was Sam Armstrong's sacrifice fly that put JU ahead originally, and after FGCU answered with a run in the top of the second, Ruben Someillan and Scott Dubrule singled in runs in the fourth and seventh respectively.
Gau went out to finish what he started in the ninth, but allowed the first two men to reach before being lifted in favor of Spencer Stockton. After a sacrifice bunt, a single from leadoff man Julio Gonzalez plated both runners and the game was tied.
In extras, FGCU struck in the tenth, loading the bases off of Tyler Santana before scoring the winning run on a wild pitch.
"I'm so proud of where they came from and what they accomplished," said Hayes. "Ultimately, only one team gets to win their final game of the season, and unfortunately for us, the end of our season was today."
The team is built for future success after winning its first ASUN Regular Season Championship since 2006. With only four seniors scheduled to depart, and five all conference selections slated to return next year, the years to come look bright for Jacksonville University baseball.
Gau, Lehane, Dubrule, and Cassala were named to the ASUN All-Tournament Team.