Jacksonville University advances to face Stetson at the top of the winners bracket, while UNF falls to the loser's bracket to face Lipscomb, who dispatched NJIT.
Kennesaw State received a version of the home game with it's close 2-1 loss to Stetson. Kennesaw drew an early lead against Logan Gilbert, but could not hold it. So far all games, with the possible exception of Lipscomb over NJIT and UNF over Kennesaw State, have held to form, albeit with much nail-biting.
JU and UNF may face-off again if form holds, this time with season-ending ramifications. JU has a better shot to win now that Gilbert has been cleared as a potential starter. JU-Stetson should be a good one.
Team RPI Record vs. sub-10 RPI teams
Stetson #7 16- 7
JU #19 11-10
Kennesaw #112 6-18
UNF #127 7-13
NJIT #148 4-6
Lipscomb #171 8-15
JU Stays Unbeaten in ASUN Baseball Championship
May 24, 2018
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A River City Rumble rubber match went Jacksonville University baseball's way, a 4-3 win that ended in dramatic fashion Thursday at Harmon Stadium to keep the Dolphins in the winner's bracket of the ASUN Baseball Championship.
Chris Gau hit a pinch-hit RBI single to give the Dolphins (39-17) the lead for good in the fifth, and a bizarre play in the ninth kept North Florida (26-27) from tying it.
UNF hit an infield single off starter Spencer Stockton (8-5) with one out in the ninth, and closer Chris Mauloni entered, surrendering a soft single to right before a pop up dropped fair down the left field line to score a run. Left fielder Cory Garrastazu had a hard time picking up, before throwing the ball into second. The throw sailed over Chris Lehane's head, and the runner at third broke home. Angel Camacho was there to back it up, and quickly rifled the ball to the plate. The runner tripped and fell five feet short of home plate, and after Franco Guardascione scooped the ball out of the dirt, he applied the tag for the second out of the ninth. Mauloni then struck out the final batter to earn his 20th save of the year.
"Unbelievable college baseball game tonight," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "Both teams were extremely competitive, neither one willing to give an inch."
JU drew first blood for the second game in a row, when Ruben Someillan walked to lead off the first, advanced to second on Lehane's 19th sacrifice bunt of the year, third on a groundout and scored on Camacho's single to right.
UNF answered with two in the third to take the lead. Four hits, all singles, gave the Ospreys a brief lead, as JU tied it right back up a half inning later. Duncan Hunter reached on another leadoff walk, one of nine free passes issued by Osprey pitchers, and took third on a failed pickoff play that resulted in a two-base error. Someillan lofted a sacrifice fly into center to knot things back up until the fifth.
Scott Dubrule singled with one-out, his eleventh career multi-hit game vs. the Ospreys, and Sam Armstrong walked with two-outs before the Dolphins went to the bench and brought in Gau, who only had two at-bats in conference play this year prior to tonight. He sailed one to the opposite field just past the outstretched arm of the third baseman and Dubrule scored to make it 3-2.
"Coach Hayes is always telling us to be ready at any moment," said Gau. "I was just lucky enough to find enough barrel to get it past the third baseman."
Guardascione gave JU a big insurance run with a solo home run to left in the eighth.
Stockton worked into the ninth for the second time this season, retiring nine in a row and 16 of the last 17 he faced prior to the infield single that ended his night.
"Franco and I were on the same page, and stuck to the bread and butter," said Stockton.
"Spencer continued to get better and better as the game went on" said Hayes. "His location really sharpened."
"Didn't want to pull him in the ninth, but his pitch count got up there and it's nice to have Mauloni in the pen."
Mauloni's ninth was not perfect, but the strikeout after the wacky play for the second out moved him back into a tie for the national lead in saves. The freshman from Jacksonville also became only the 26th player in NCAA history to hit the 20 save mark in a season.
Jacksonville plays #1 seed Stetson in the winner's bracket game tomorrow at 11 a.m. The game can be followed on ESPN+, Mixlr and 1010XL, joining in progress at noon.
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