JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University baseball was held to three hits and dropped the final game of the series at John Sessions Stadium on Sunday.
NJIT (18-18, 5-10) took the lead in the fourth and led the rest of the way to win 3-2, ending JU's (30-14, 8-4) eight-game winning streak.
"NJIT did a really good job of competing the entire day," said Hayes. "They were really good at keeping our hitters guessing and we weren't great at making adjustments."
The Highlanders put the first two men on in the fourth with singles off of Spencer Stockton (5-5). Another single scored a run to tie the game at one, before an error committed on a sacrifice bunt attempt loaded the bases with no outs. JU turned a double play, but the go-ahead run scored for NJIT to make it 2-1.
Jacksonville took an early lead, scoring in the first inning for the third game in a row. Ruben Someillan reached on a two-base throwing error, advanced to third on a flyout and scored on a wild pitch, giving the Dolphins the advantage without a hit.
Stockton allowed runners to reach scoring position in all but one of the seven innings he worked, but largely stranded them there. He retired seven in a row at one point before giving up a two-out double in the sixth, but did not allow another run until the seventh. A two-out error put a man in scoring position, and one pitch later he was singled in to make it 3-1 and end Stockton's day.
"I thought Spencer didn't have his best stuff today, but he did a great job of competing and giving us a chance," said Hayes.
JU managed a bit of a rally in the eighth, when Franco Guardascione walked to start the inning and with two outs Chris Lehane doubled into right center, his fourth double of the series, and an error on the play allowed Guardascione to score from first to cut it to 3-2. That would do it for the scoring for JU on the day.
The Dolphins' bats were held in check for most of the afternoon. Coming into the final game of the series, JU had combined for 17 runs on 23 hits, but ended the day with just three base knocks.
"Ultimately, we didn't do enough at the plate today and we didn't play clean enough to win," said Hayes.
With the loss, JU falls into sole possession of second place in the ASUN Conference, heading into a weekend series at first place Stetson in Deland, Fla. next weekend.
"We're going to reflect on the game today and continue to grow. Our best baseball is yet to come," said Hayes.
Jacksonville resumes action at home on Wednesday vs. Bethune-Cookman. First pitch is 7 p.m. at John Sessions Stadium.