SPARTANBURG, S.C. – In the hottest game played in all year by Jacksonville University baseball, the bats were even hotter for the Dolphins, who came from behind to win 14-5 over USC Upstate Saturday on a 91-degree afternoon at Harley Park.
JU (33-17, 10-6) clubbed 18 hits while erasing two separate deficits to win the series at USC Upstate (23-26-1, 5-12), its 11th series win of the year.
"We knew we had to a great job of driving their starter's pitch count up," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "Our offense did a great job of executing our game plan today.
"In the middle innings it really showed, a lot of quality at bats and really good Dolphin baseball."
The Dolphins scored 12 runs combined in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. After falling behind 2-0 early, JU got the offense going in the fifth. Cory Garrastazu bunted his way on before Franco Guardascione walked. A sacrifice bunt by Duncan Hunter moved them into scoring position and Ruben Someillan walked to load them up. With two-outs, Scott Dubrule cleared the bases with a double off the wall in right to give JU a 3-2 advantage.
USC Upstate responded with three of its own in the bottom half, with four hits, including an RBI double, to retake the lead 5-2.
The Dolphins had an answer again in the sixth. Three consecutive one-out singles by Connor Stephens, Garrastazu and Guardascione scored the first run of the frame. Someillan was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Chris Lehane drove in two with a single to center. Dubrule and Angel Camacho also had RBI base hits as JU worked through three pitchers to take an 8-5 lead.
Spencer Stockton (6-5) surrendered 10 hits and five runs, four earned, in seven innings of work, but offered a steadying presence on the mound for the Dolphins, continually throwing strikes after his offense staked him a big lead.
"That was vintage Spencer today," said Hayes. "Had good enough stuff and found a way to navigate through a good lineup.
"We needed it with the eleven inning game last night."
The Dolphins added four more in the seventh when Garrastazu and Guardascione both walked with one out before TD Walker picked up his first career JU hit to load the bases. Someillan drove in one on a fielder's choice before Lehane singled in another and Dubrule tacked two more RBI on to his banner day at the plate to make it 12-5.
JU added one in each the eighth and the ninth. Camacho scored on Garrastazu's sacrifice fly and after Lehane tripled to start the ninth, his third hit of the day, Dubrule drove him in with a single to short, tying the program single-game record for runs batted in with seven on his fifth hit of the game, also tied for a single-game program record.
"Hit the pitch where it is hard is all I'm thinking," said Dubrule. "I think as little as possible at the plate.
"The time to think is in practice."
Dubrule is now 8-13 with 10 RBI in his last three games.
"Not much [is different at the plate]," he said. "I'm just putting good swings on good pitches and baseball works itself out."
With the win, Jacksonville clinched its spot in the ASUN Championship, which begins May 23 at Harmon Stadium in Jacksonville. The Dolphins have won double-digit conference games for the fifth consecutive season.
The final game of the series starts at 1 p.m. Sunday. Jacksonville looks to sweep a conference foe for the first time in 2018.