A season high in runs for Jacksonville University baseball was just the recipe to claim a road series win over Jacksonville State on Saturday.
JU (15-9) exploded to win 17-6 over JSU (12-8) at Choccolocco Park, allowing the Dolphins to secure its first road series win of the season and set up an opportunity for a sweep tomorrow afternoon.
"It was extremely important for us to get a lead in today's game with how hard fought last night's game was," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "Our hitters did a great job of stacking good at-bats."
The runs came early and often, as JU put up a five-spot in the top of the second, when the Dolphins brought 10 men to the plate. Angel Camacho singled to start the inning and Jacob Southern walked before Sam Armstrong hit his third home run of the year to left. After John Cassala walked with one out, Duncan Hunter crushed his first career long ball to left to put JU up 5-0.
"We can hit the ball pretty well, it's just a matter of everyone being locked in 100%," said Hunter. "I feel like we can be pretty good all around as long as we can do that."
The Dolphins picked up where it left off in the third, when Southern and Armstrong led off with singles and Franco Guardascione bunted them over. After Hunter was hit-by-pitch with two-outs, Ruben Someillan cleared the bases with a double to the left-center gap and it was 8-0 Dolphins and JSU starter Derrick Adams was out of the game.
Jacksonville State fought back, plating four runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning. Back-to-back singles to start the frame and a wild pitch allowed both men to move into scoring position. An RBI ground out and a run scoring single set up Andrew Naismith to club his second home run of the weekend, and the Gamecocks cut the lead in half.
JU tacked on one more in the fourth. Dubrule led off with a single, went to second on wild pitch and third on an error by the second baseman on an attempted pick off play. After Armstrong walked, Guardascione roped a double down the line to make it 9-4, where it would stay until the seventh.
On a day that was difficult for pitchers with the wind gusting out over 20 miles per hour to left field in an already smaller ballpark than JU is used to playing in, Tyler Santana (4-1) took advantage of the offensive cushion to pound the zone and rely on his defense behind him. After surrendering four runs in the third, he did not allow another run in seven innings, earning the win for his efforts.
"When you get a lead and pound the zone, everyone is a little more locked in," said Hayes about the picthing and defense, which played error-free ball and turned two double-plays to help Santana out.
Hunter and Someillan walked to start the seventh and were bunted into scoring position. Dubrule fell behind in the count 0-2, before battling back to see 10 pitches and finally lifting one to left that scored Hunter. Camacho then laced a double to score Someillan and Southern walked before Armstrong banged a double off the right field wall, scoring two, mere inches from his second homer of the day. The Dolphins led comfortably, 13-4 after seven.
JSU hit a solo home run in the eighth, before Jacksonville loaded the bases in the ninth and Guardascione greeted the fourth Gamecock reliever of the day with a grand slam to make it 17-5.
Jacksonville State managed one last run in the ninth.
There were several stars on offense, led by freshman RF Hunter, who reached in all five plate appearances, highlighted by a two-run home run and a double.
"Games are longer now than in high school," said Hunter. "The biggest part for me is just staying focused and being locked in the entire time."
Armstrong and Guardascione drove in a season-high five runs each and all nine JU starters reached base at least once.
Jacksonville goes for a second consecutive sweep, and third overall this season, tomorrow at 2 p.m. RHP Austin Temple takes the ball for JU, coming off a career-high four innings in his first career start last Sunday.
"Championships are won on Sunday," said Hayes. "Temple has to extend on what he did last week and hopefully we end up on the good side of things."