Stetson Baseball Loss Ends College World Series Hopes

By on June 9, 2018 in WNDB News

Chapel Hill, NC – A magical run in the NCAA Tournament for Stetson University’s baseball team comes to a heart-stopping end in the Super Regional round.

In last night’s 7-4 loss to the University of North Carolina (43-18), designated hitter Brooks Wilson came up in the top of the 9th inning with the bases loaded and a chance to give his Hatters (48-13) the lead. That time, his deep fly to left field was caught just before the warning track.

The only difference today was that it was the bottom of the 9th with two Hatters on board and the deep fly went to center field instead. Once UNC’s Brandon Riley squeezed the ball in his glove, it was the team in blue celebrating a 7-5 win and its first trip to the College World Series in five years in front of a packed house at Boshamer Stadium.

Playing as the road team despite the game being at their home stadium due to NCAA rules, the #6 overall seed jumped all over Stetson starting pitcher Jack Perkins early, plating four runs as the entire lineup came up to bat in the top of the 1st inning.

UNC third baseman Kyle Datres singled to left field on the first pitch of the game, one of six hits that inning for head coach Mike Fox’s club. Back-to-back one-out RBI doubles by right fielder Cody Roberts and Riley quickly made it 2-0.

Second baseman Zack Gahagan’s single later on that inning scored Riley to make it 3-0, and another RBI double – this one from left fielder Ashton McGee – scored shortstop Ike Freeman from 3rd base, putting Stetson deep in the hole before seeing the first pitch from UNC starting pitcher Gianluca Dalatri.

Hatters third baseman Jon Meola got his team on the board with a two-out solo home run to right field in the bottom of the 2nd inning, but UNC would quickly make up for it in the top of the 3rd inning with two runs of their own.

Singles from Freeman and Gahagan set things up for McGee, whose hit scored designated hitter Jackson Hesterlee and ended Perkins’ day. The junior right-hander and 11th round draft pick of the Philadephia Phillies in the 2018 Major League Baseball draft allowed nine hits and six runs – all earned – in two and a third innings, taking just his third loss of the year.

Stetson went to the pen and brought out normal Sunday starter Mitchell Senger to try and stop the bleeding, which he did after allowing a sacrifice fly to catcher Brandon Martorano, scoring Gahagan from 3rd base to make it 6-1 UNC.

Head coach Steve Trimper’s ballclub managed to scratch those two runs back in the bottom of the third thanks to Wilson. The Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year delivered a bases-loaded single, scoring left fielder Andrew MacNeil from 3rd base and right fielder Mike Spooner from 2nd base to make the score 6-3 Tar Heels.

The boys from DeLand would threaten again in the bottom of the 4th inning. With runners on 1st base and 2nd base, the Heels brought in lefty Caden O’Brien to face MacNeil. The sophomore then grounded into a controversial double play, with MacNeil called out after the umpires ruled Stetson second baseman Kyle Ball interfered with Freeman’s throw to 1st base.

The bats for both sides quieted down until the top of the 6th inning. Roberts dropped a picture-perfect bunt right in front of Senger on a squeeze play, scoring Martorano from 3rd base to give UNC a four-run lead again. That lead would drop down to three again after MacNeil lined a pitch just over the right field fence in the bottom of the 7th inning.

Spooner’s RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the 9th scored catcher Austin Hale, eventually providing the final score and leaving the Hatters two wins shy of its first-ever appearance in Omaha.

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