JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Clinching the ASUN Conference regular season championship for the first time since 2006, Jacksonville University (33-22, 16-5) shutout the University of North Florida (33-22, 12-9 ASUN) 4-0 in the #RiverCityRumble finale on Saturday. Casey Kulina pitched his second consecutive complete game and first career shutout to earn his fifth win of the season.
"This is a culmination of a tremendous season for this program," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "The work that these guys have put in from Day 1 really showed at the end of the season, and it culminates with Casey. Casey is one of the hardest workers in this program, he's one of the most dependable guys that's played in a Dolphin uniform in a long time, and that all showed today. His conditioning, his work ethic, and his preparation allowed him to be absolutely unbelievable today."
Kulina allowed just four hits and surrendered just four walks while striking out five in nine innings of work. His shutout is just the third of the season for JU, and he now owns both JU complete games in 2017. This is the first time North Florida has been shut out the entire season.
The game was scoreless through one inning, and Jacksonville struck first in the second. Evan Fernandez earned his first hit of the series with a single through the left side, and Chris Lehane advanced Fernandez to second on a sac bunt. A Ruben Someillan single that dropped into center field at the feet of the Osprey outfielder put Fernandez across. Dakota Julylia pushed Someillan to second with a single through left, but a double play ended the Dolphin threat. Kulina allowed a two-out walk but forced a fielder's choice to keep UNF off the board. After two JU led 1-0.
UNF starter Cooper Bradford was relieved after just two innings of work by Brad Depperman, who promptly walked Scott Dubrule in just four pitches. Dubrule reached in all five appearances at the plate with a single in the first, a walk in the third, a hit in the fifth, an error in the sixth, and a hit in the eighth. Angel Camacho earned his first hit of the weekend series with a blooper into center, placing Dubrule on third, but Camacho was caught on a wide turn at first and thrown out. With two outs Mike Cassala singled to right field, scoring JU's second run of the day. Fernandez singled to left for his second of three hits, but both Fernandez and Cassala were stranded. After three JU led 2-0.
With two outs JU rallied again in the sixth. Someillan singled down the left field line on a 2-2 count, and Julylia placed him in scoring position with a first-pitch single through the left side. Nathan Koslowski shot one up UNF's gut to score Someillan and put Julylia in scoring position, and the bases loaded when Dubrule reached on an error by the UNF third baseman, the only North Florida error of the series. A deep flyout just short of the fence limited the damage to just one run, but JU led 3-0 after six.
The final run of the day came in the eighth. Julylia led off with a 1-0 single to left, and advanced to third on a one-out, 2-2 count single by Dubrule. With runners on the corners and one out UNF brought in its best reliever, who promptly walked Camacho in five pitches. Alex Seifert earned his second sacrificial RBI of the series with a sac fly to center, scoring Julylia. A fielder's choice wrapped the top of the eighth with JU leading 4-0, and Kulina forced a double play after a lead-off single in the bottom of the inning to keep UNF off the board. Neither team scored in the ninth, giving Kulina his fifth win of the year and JU the regular season ASUN crown.