JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Despite Harvard University (5-3) scoring three runs in the first inning, Jacksonville University (9-9) was able to fight through the rough start and take the Sunday series finale 5-3 over the Crimson. The Dolphins took the series 3-1.
"Today was a bullpen day," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "Disch struggled a bit, and for Meyer to come in and give us a chance to get out of that inning and then shorten the game was tremendous. Wise came in and gives us seven huge outs, and Santana came back after back-to-back days and was very effective. The holds were huge. It's a credit to their preparation and the pitching staff's toughness."
Nathan Disch got the start for JU and struck out the first batter in just three pitches, but then had his rhythm interrupted in a meeting with the home plate umpire. The senior from Appleton, Wis., struggled to find the zone again, and after walking home two batters was pulled in favor of Matt Meyer. The Crimson scored once more in the inning on an error, but Meyer was able to end the threat by forcing a flyout. Nathan Koslowski kept his eight-game hitting streak alive with a single in the bottom of the inning, but JU couldn't convert it into a run. After one inning Harvard led 3-0.
The combo of Meyer, Shane Wise, and Tyler Santana proved unstoppable for the rest of the game. Harvard got just one hit in the entire game as the three pitchers struck out 12 enroute to Wise's first win of the season and Santana's first career save.
While the pitching staff held Harvard in check, JU's bats got to work in the fourth. Alex Seifert hit a leadoff single, but was cut down in a fielder's choice hit by Sam Armstrong. Mike Cassala hit a flyout to center, but it wasn't quite deep enough to advance Armstrong. But Angel Camacho singled past third to put Armstrong on second, and Chris Gau collected his first career double that plated both Armstrong and Camacho. After four innings JU trailed Harvard by just one run, 3-2.
JU finally took the lead in the sixth inning on two hits and an error. M. Cassala reached first on an error and then advanced to second on the throw, and Seth DeWitt successfully sac bunted to put M. Cassala on third. Then Gau hit his second career double and second of the game to score M. Cassala, tying the game at 3-3. Ruben Someillan ground out to second to put Gau on third, and Gau reached home on an RBI single to left by Connor Stephens. After six JU 4-3.
The final run of the game came in the bottom of the seventh. Dakota Julylia reached on a leadoff error from the shortstop, then was advanced to second on a groundout by Koslowski. The sophomore from Lake Worth, Fla., reached third on a wild pitch, and was joined on the bases by Armstrong after the third-baseman was walked. Then M. Cassala smacked a single to left, putting Julylia across. DeWitt flew out to end the inning, but after seven JU led 5-3, which proved to be the final margin.
"It's been really great to see Koslowski have the success he's had early in the season," said Hayes. "He's one of the hardest working guys we have. He leads by example in the way he plays the game, and the guys are starting to feed off of it. Gau got the opportunity in the DH spot today and came up with two huge hits to wake us up. It was great to see both of them come through in big spots today."