Stetson got three pinch-hit singles to tie the series finale against Winthrop, and then a sacrifice fly to walk-off with a 5-4 series clinching victory over the Eagles (11-9).
The Hatters got it done against Winthrop closer Zach Cook (0-2) by sending up consecutive pinch hitters in the ninth. Since the Eagles opened the game with left-hander Thad Harris on the mound, there was an abundance of left-handed hitters available on the bench.
Senior John Fussell opened the inning with a single to left-center. Will Mackenzie followed with a single to right center before Kevin Fagan ripped a single down the line in right to score pinch-runner Dominic Baldino with the tying run.
After Austin Hale delivered a sacrifice bunt to move runners up to second and third, Jacob Koos was walked intentionally to lead the bases for freshman Matt Morales.
Before hitting the fly ball that scored pinch runner Dean Garabedian with the winning run, Morales took a swing at a 3-1 fastball.
“He threw me a fastball away on the 3-1,” Morales said. “It was a good pitch for him. I could have taken it and it would have been close. The 3-2 was a fastball on the corner and I just hit an average it fly ball to left.”
Anthony Paulsen caught the fly ball from Morales in good position to make a strong throw home. Garabedian said he knew when it left the bat that he was going to score.
To get the Hatters in position for the ninth inning heroics, the Stetson bullpen had to put a lid on the hot-hitting Winthrop lineup. The Eagles scored three runs, only two of which were earned, off freshman starter Erik Wiebke in the first three innings. Adam Schaly then came on to keep the Eagles at bay into the fifth inning before turning the game over to another freshman, Jack Perkins.
Winthrop’s Tyler Asbill opened the top of the ninth with a single off Tyler Keller. Josh Thorne then came in and was able to get an out despite slipping while fielding a sacrifice bunt.
After intentionally walking Paulsen, Stetson turned to closer Walker Sheller (1-1) to get out of the jam. He did just that, throwing only one pitch to Gonzalez, the Eagles’ best hitter.
Asbill, Paulsen (RBI) and Babe Thomas (stolen base) had three hits each in the game to lead the Winthrop offense. Harris went eight innings with seven strikeouts for the no-decision.
WP: Sheller (1-1). LP: Cook (0-2). Leading hitters: Win: Paulsen 3-4, RBI, BB, run; Thomas 3-4, run; Asbill 3-5, run.