JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a game that featured 20 runs and 27 hits combined, Jacksonville University (31-21, 14-4 ASUN) outlasted #23 University of South Florida Tuesday in a four-hour slugfest. The Dolphins won 11-9 by shutting out the Bulls in the first three and final two innings.
"Great way to finish the home schedule in John Sessions Stadium," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "We faced a really good team tonight, and for us to come out and hit the way we hit and play clean defense was exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to rest some guys and give them a break heading into the regular season finale, and the guys that had the opportunity tonight stepped up. Alex came up huge with a sac bunt and a double, and he was just a part of a complete team effort tonight."
Jacksonville struck early and often, lighting up the scoreboard in half of its innings at the plate. Nathan Koslowski got the first of his three hits in his final home game with a single to lead off the first inning, and was advanced on a sac bunt from Alex Seifert. An RBI double from Sam Armstrong put Koslowski across, giving JU a 1-0 lead after one inning. JU improves to 12-3 when scoring in the first inning and 23-5 when scoring before its opponent.
Jacob Southern got his second homer of the year on a 1-1 count with one out in the bottom of the second, and Chris Lehane turned a single into a double with some fast footwork with two outs. Lehane advanced to third on a wild pitch, and Koslowski joined Lehane on base on a five-pitch walk. An error allowed Seifert to reach, advancing Koslowski to second and putting Lehane across safely. After two innings JU led 3-0.
USF's bats awoke in the fourth inning in the tail end of Dolphin starter Greg Shannahan's terrific third start. The redshirt sophomore returning from Tommy John surgery pitched three and two thirds, allowing just two earned runs on three hits with three strikeouts and a walk. JU responded with three runs of its own in the bottom of the fourth.
Koslowski singled through the right side with one out, and stole second in Seifert's at-bat. An Evan Fernandez RBI single with two outs put Koslowski across, and Armstrong earned his second and third RBIs of the night in the next at-bat on a two-run, no-doubt homer just to the right of center field. After four innings JU led 6-2.
USF would respond in the fifth with its biggest offensive output of the night. The Bulls used four hits, two doubles and two singles, to put four runs across, all with no outs. Then winning pitcher Mark Potter zoned in, sandwiching two strikeouts around a 6-3 grounder that stranded a Bull at third. Heading into the bottom of the fifth the game was tied 6-6.
JU played a game of anything you can do I can do better in the bottom of the fifth, plating five runs on five hits. Southern drew a one-out walk, then was joined on base by Connor Stephens, who singled while pinch-hitting for Ruben Someillan. A single by Lehane loaded the bases with one out and Koslowski returning to the plate. The fifth-year senior singled through the shortstop on the first pitch he saw, giving JU the lead for good. A Seifert double scored Lehane and Stephens, and Fernandez doubled to the same spot one at-bat later, scoring Koslowski and Seifert. The inning ended on a ground out and a strikeout, but after five innings JU led 11-6.
The Bulls would chip away at the lead by scoring a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh, but JU's pitching staff held just enough to preserve a two-run lead. Tyler Santana relieved Potter to start the eighth inning. The freshman allowed Bulls to reach second and third base with just one out, but battled back, striking out the final two batters he faced to end the threat. Spencer Stockton replaced Santana in the ninth and surrendered a two-out walk, but forced the next batter to hit into a fielder's choice. JU held on to win 11-9.