Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hatters Down but not Out

Stetson immediately put itself up against the wall with Wednesday's loss to Belmont sending the top seed to the consolation bracket. They began their road back by receiving clutch hitting from the bottom of the order as well as when facing two strikes to defeat ETSU on Thursday by a 7-2 score.

After allowing the Buccaneers to level the score at two and with the game moving into the late innings, the Hatters rallied twice with two-out rallies. They pushed across the go-ahead runs in the sixth inning. With runners at second and third, Mitchel Brennan, the eighth-place hitter, delivered a crushing blow to right center that plated the pair. After advancing to third, Kyle Zech continued the rally by scoring Brennan with an infield single.

"At the bottom of the order, you get a lot of pitches to see because [the pitcher] doesn't want to face the top of the order," Brennan said. "I was just sitting back on off-speed and I got one I could handle and drove it into the gap. My only thought was to get the runs any way I could."

As Hatter starter Will Dorsey and later Joe Dye continued to hold the potent Buccaneers' offense at bay, the Hatters strung together a final two-out rally to push the game to its final 7-2 margin. With two down and no one on base in the bottom of the eighth again the bottom of the order came through as Ryan Lashley, Brennan and Robert Bruce strung together three consecutive hits.

"I'm glad we [got those two-out hits] because twice early in the game we had [a runner] at third base with less than two out - which early in the year, we would cash that in every time," Pete Dunn, the Stetson head coach and 2011 A-Sun Coach of the Year said. "To be able to redeem ourselves with those two-out hits were huge. Good teams find a way to do that - and I think we're pretty good. We're beat up, but you have to come up big this time of year."

The Hatters are hardly off the mat just yet. They face as many as four more elimination games to claim the title that has eluded the six-time champions the past four years.

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