JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Retiring the last 19 batters faced in a rubber match on Sunday afternoon, Jacksonville University baseball prevailed 2-1 over #22 West Virginia to take the series against the Mountaineers at John Sessions Stadium.
"They did a real good job of changing speeds and keeping the hitters off balance," said Head Coach Chris Hayes about his pitchers. "You can't say enough about Mike Cassala and Chris Mauloni. They are the reason we are standing here with a victory."
West Virginia struck first in the deciding game of the series, on a solo shot to left off the bat of Kevin Brophy in the second. That was the only hit of the day allowed by Dolphin starter Cassala, whose only other blemish was a walk in the third. He struck out five over six innings en route to his first win of 2018.
For the first time all weekend, the team that drew first blood did not hang on to win, and it did not take long for JU to erase WVU's lead. In the bottom of the second, Chris Gau singled to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a groundout to first two batters later and scored after back-to-back single from Franco Guardascione and Chris Lehane, the latter driving him in.
The Dolphins, who finished with a weekend high nine hits, only managed one more run, but it proved to be the difference. After Ruben Someillan got the bottom of the fifth started with a single, two batters later Angel Camacho popped up to second. In a bizarre play, the second baseman dropped the pop fly, but ran over to first and tagged Someillan and Camacho, both of whom were occupying the bag. The ruling was that Camacho was entitled to the base, so Someillan was out. With now two-outs, Scott Dubrule singled to advance Camacho to second, where he scored the following at-bat on a Gau RBI single to center.
"It's been a priority for us to make sure Gau gets at-bats," said Hayes. "He's a fierce competitor and it gives him a different way to compete."
After that, the freshman right-hander Mauloni relieved Cassala and sat down all nine batters he faced, including two strikeouts in the ninth, to earn his first career save.
"He's part of the freshman that we're really excited about, along with Austin Temple and Trent Palmer," said Hayes. "We saw some nerves out of them yesterday and I think Mauloni even learned from that."
"We're really excited about his future and what he gave us today."
Next up, Jacksonville hits the road for the first time in 2018, to face Bethune-Cookman on Tuesday in Daytona Beach, Fla. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
"We've got four tough games on the road," said Hayes. "We'll enjoy this one a little tonight but then it's time to move forward and focus on what's next."