JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Chris Lehane delivered two in the fifth to lift Jacksonville University baseball to a 3-1 win over Rhode Island on Saturday night at John Sessions Stadium. JU wins the series, and tries for its first sweep of the year tomorrow afternoon.
"We were not sharp, but we found a way to get it done," said Head Coach Chris Hayes.
Rhode Island struck first off of JU starter Tyler Santana, putting three men on base without a hit, and scoring on an RBI groundout to take a 1-0 lead.
The game stayed scoreless for three innings after that, though not due to a lack of baserunners. URI left the bases loaded in the third, and JU left two on in each the third and the fourth, until finally breaking through in the fifth.
Angel Camacho singled to lead off the inning, but was forced out at second on a grounder to short off the bat of Scott Dubrule, who quickly took second on a wild pitch. Southern then walked, one of three free passes he earned on the night. Both runners advanced on an Evan Fernandez groundout before Lehane drove a 3-2 curveball into center, picking up his team-high seventh and eighth RBI of the season.
Trent Palmer, who relieved Santana in the top of the fifth, worked three scoreless innings, striking out four and allowing just one hit, to earn the first win of his collegiate career.
"Coming in after Santana did not have his best stuff and shutting them down for three innings gave us a big lift," said Hayes.
Rhode Island had opportunities late, including loading the bases in the eighth against Austin Temple and Matt Meyer, before Meyer slammed the door with back-to-back strikeouts to strand the bases juiced.
Again, in the ninth the Rams threatened, this time against Chris Mauloni. But, after the freshman allowed the first two men in the inning to reach bringing the go-ahead run to the plate with no outs, he then struck out the side to register his third save in as many chances.
The two teams combined to leave 23 men on base, and Rhode Island went 0-10 with runners in scoring position. JU pitching has now held URI hitless in 14 chances with runners in scoring position this weekend.
Jacksonville goes for the sweep tomorrow after winning the first two games of a series for the first time this season, and have now won two weekend series in 2018.
"Championships are won on Sunday," said Hayes. "This is the first opportunity for us to come out and compete the way we need to finish a weekend."
First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m., with Mike Cassala taking the ball for Jacksonville. It is Kids Day at the ballpark, everyone 18 and under get in for free and get a free ice cream and hot dog. There will be bounce houses and a chance to run the bases afterward, along with plenty of other activities.
If you cannot make it out to the game, it can be heard on mixlr.com/judolphins.