JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A wild ninth inning that saw the nation's two top closers both blow saves ended in a 9-8 loss for #2 seed Jacksonville University baseball against #1 seed Stetson on Thursday at Harmon Stadium.
With the loss, JU (39-18) drops into the loser's bracket of the ASUN Baseball Championship and plays the winner of #4 seed North Florida and #5 seed Lipscomb tonight at 7 p.m.
JU trailed Stetson (44-11) the entire game, until the Dolphins plated five in the top of the ninth to take the lead. Three straight singles loaded the bases, and a throwing error by the Hatter second baseman on a fielder's choice allowed Franco Guardascione to score. Ruben Someillan then plated two with a single to center to tie it at six, before Scott Dubrule drove in two more with a double to right to give JU an 8-6 lead.
"We left some balls over the plate," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "Chris has thrown three days in a row and I think guys are showing some fatigue.
"When you're playing in a competitive environment, you want to put your best out there."
Tyler Santana started and gave up four runs in the first two innings, but settled down to pitch into the eighth. He finished with 7.2 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits, while striking out three and walking three.
"Tyler competed really well for us," said Hayes. "He struggled with his location and Stetson did a great job of putting the ball in play with authority.
"Huge credit for Tyler for competing and giving us those innings."
JU scored its first run of the day on a Dubrule RBI single to score Chris Lehane in the sixth, and got two more in the eighth, when the first two reached on singles and Someillan knocked in the first, with Angel Camacho driving in the second three batters later.
"This is tournament baseball, every out is big, every run is big," said Someillan. "We want to take this momentum, stay positive, and focus on the next game."
Jacksonville moves into the loser's bracket for the first time in two years at the ASUN Baseball Championship. JU already has wins over both the Ospreys and the Bisons in the tournament. If the Dolphins win tonight, they play Stetson again tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the championship final, and would have to win two against the Hatters to win the tournament championship.