JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University baseball battled #22 West Virginia to the end, but could not drive in the tying run late, falling 5-4 on opening night at John Sessions Stadium.
"This group doesn't stop," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "This group doesn't quit, and they competed until the last pitch."
The Friday night starters lived up to the billing early, as JU's Chris Gau and WVU's BJ Myers pitched scoreless innings for the first three frames. A leadoff double in the top of the fourth started things for the Mountaineers, who plated four before JU answered with three of its own in the bottom half.
Scott Dubrule hit a single with one out, and advanced to second on a throwing error by the pitcher Myers. John Cassala lined one back up the middle, scoring Dubrule from second. After Evan Fernandez reached on a fielders choice, Connor Stephens cranked his first career home run to bring the Dolphins within one.
After West Virginia added another run with a solo shot of its own in the top of the fifth, Dubrule drove in Ruben Someillan on a two-out single to right a half inning later.
Neither team would score the rest of the night, though JU threatened the last four innings, putting a runner in scoring position in the sixth, seventh and eighth. Sam Armstrong walked with one out in the ninth, but JU could not bring him home.
"I think early guys are just pushing a little to get it done in the big spot," said Hayes. "A little uncharacteristic in their at-bats late."
Gau took the loss in his debut as the Friday night starter, going five innings and allowing six hits, five runs, three earned, while walking three and striking out two.
Sophomore Tyler Santana gets the ball for Jacksonville tomorrow, making his first career start as the Dolphins look to even up the series.
"I'm excited to see Tyler on the mound," said Hayes. "He's earned the chance to make his first collegiate start."
Game two of the three game series starts tomorrow at 2 p.m. Every pitch can be heard here.