JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University baseball (8-5) bounced back on Wednesday night, defeating South Florida (7-6) 4-2 at John Sessions Stadium.
"It was tough coming back from a loss like that last night," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "I was very pleased to see the guys respond, show some toughness and really show who they were tonight."
After dropping a Tuesday night affair across town, JU returned home and got back to winning baseball, starting with the effort on the mound.
Spencer Stockton, making his second start of the season, turned in his best performance of his senior campaign thus far, twirling six scoreless innings while striking out eight. It was not as easy as it sounded.
USF put runners on in each of the first three innings, including two doubles, but Stockton stranded them each time. After a 1-2-3 fourth inning, it got even tougher. The Bulls singled to start off the inning, then a two-base throwing error by Sam Armstrong put two in scoring position. A lineout to second, and a groundout to third before a walk loaded the bases with two outs, before a fielder's choice to short ended the inning.
The Bulls threatened again in the sixth, with a single and a walk to start before back-to-back strikeouts followed by a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for USF with two outs. Stockton slammed the door with his eighth punchout, the fourth looking, to wrap his evening in line for the win.
"We were mixing them [pitches] up and keeping them off-balance pretty well," said Stockton.
"He did a great job of competing, managed his pitch count pretty well, and attacked the zone," said Hayes.
Jacksonville plated a run in the third after Ruben Someillan singled and Chris Lehane sent him to third on a hit-and-run. Scott Dubrule then bounced into a double play, but the run scored, and it stayed 1-0 until the sixth.
Jacksonville, emboldened by Stockton's stellar performance plated three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. A leadoff double for Angel Camacho followed by an RBI single for Armstrong got it started, and Mike Cassala walked two batters later to chase USF starter Baron Stuart. Reliever Carson Ragsdale threw two wild pitches in his first three offerings out of the pen, allowing Armstrong to score and Cassala advance to third. Jacob Southern then walked and two batters later, Someillan drove in the run on one of his three hits of the night.
USF got two back in the top of the seventh, one a dropped infield fly error and the second on an RBI fielder's choice, which was nearly a double play to end the inning. That was it for the Bulls, as Jacksonville's bullpen locked down a lead late again.
Trent Palmer struck out two in the eighth before he was replaced by Chris Mauloni, who induced a flyout to center with the tying run at second to end the inning. He then sat down USF in order in the ninth to register his fifth save in as many chances already this season.
JU held USF to 1-16 in RISP situations, and stranded 12 Bulls baserunners.
"We had a better mindset," said Stockton. "We washed away last night and said 'let's get back to Dolphin baseball'."
Jacksonville stays home for another weekend series, welcoming in the Bradley Braves for a three-game set starting Friday night at 6 p.m. It is Dollar Day at John Sessions Stadium, with tickets and select concession items going for just a buck.