Back-to-Back: Bethune Cookman Downs Jacksonville, 5-4

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Adonis Lao dropped a deep fly ball to center field over the head of Connor Stephens, allowing Bethune-Cookman’s Trent Nash to score from second base and give the Wildcats a 5-4 walk-off victory over Jacksonville on Wednesday night in non-conference baseball action at Radiology Associates Field at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.

After an epic 11-inning comeback walk-off victory against cross-county opponent Stetson on Tuesday night, Bethune-Cookman (6-2) posted a ninth inning walk-off win less than 24 hours later against the visiting Jacksonville Dolphins.

With the game tied at 4-all in the bottom of the ninth, designated hitter Austin Garcia (LaBelle, Fla.) struck a single to right center, followed by a sac bunt groundout from shortstop Demetrius Sims (Ann Arbor, Mich.) that advanced pinch runner Trent Nash up 90 feet into scoring position. After Jordan Stacy (Jacksonville, Fla.) was intentionally walked, Jacksonville (5-4) turned to closer Tyler Santana on the bump to try and get the Dolphins out of the jam.

Facing a 2-2 count and runners on first and second, junior left fielder Adonis Lao (Elmhurst, N.Y.) drove a deep fly ball to center, with the Dolphins outfield playing shallow. The ball was just over the outstretched arms of centerfielder Connor Stephens, allowing Nash to race in from second and give the Cats back-to-back walk-off wins for the first time since scoring three walk-offs a season ago at home against North Carolina Central.

Bethune-Cookman opened the game with a pair of runs in the opening frame in order to quickly race out to a 2-0 lead.

The first five (5) batters reached safely to start the game for the Wildcats, including sophomore first baseman Danny Rodriguez (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) with a two-run scoring single through the right side to score Jameel Edney (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and Nate Sterijevski (Clermont, Fla.).

Despite giving up two opening-inning runs, JU starting pitcher Nathan Disch settled in to retire eight of the next nine batters. Offensively, his team grabbed a run back in the top-half of the second inning.

After a single to shallow center, JU designated hitter Seth Dewitt would come around to score courtesy two wild pitches charged to BCU starter Alexis Herrera (Miami, Fla.).

In his first start of the season, Herrera, a junior right-hander, would settle in to record four strikeouts and allow just the one run in scattering five hits in four innings on the mound. He would exit the game prior to the start of the fifth inning after throwing 74 pitches in a no-decision.

BCU would up its advantage at 3-1 in the home-half of the fifth inning when Lao scored off a fielding error charged to JU third baseman Sam Armstrong on a ball off the bat of Sterijevski.

The Dolphins pulled back to within 3-2 in the top of the seventh, using a solo home run to right centerfield from Nathan Koslowski at the top of the order.

However, BCU would match the solo home run with Stacy’s first round-tripper of the year that easily cleared the left field wall.

With BCU leading 4-2 in the eighth inning, JU scored a pair to knot the game at 4-all.

After working a clean seventh inning out of the bullpen, BCU freshman pitcher Isaak Gutierrez (Norwalk, Calif.) would lose his command and eventually load up the bases for the Dolphins with nobody out in the eighth. BCU head coach Jason Beverlin, now in his sixth year at the helm in Daytona Beach, went to the pen for junior closer Joseph Calamita (Lake Worth, Fla.).

After Calamita struck out Scott Dubrule for the first out, catcher Franco Guardascione bagged a two-run single to right field that scored John Cassala and Sam Armstrong. However, pinch runner Alex Seifert was thrown out at third for the second out as Kyle Corbin (Orlando, Fla.) hit Stacy behind the dish, who threw to Edney at third. Calamita would get Dakota Julylia to fly out to Sims at short in order to end the side.

Calamita picked up his second win in as many days, running his record to 2-0 on the campaign. He pitched two frames, struck out one and scattered two hits in the relief effort. Sophomore Tyler Krull (West Palm Beach, Fla.) also pitched two scoreless innings for the Cats out of the bullpen, allowing just two hits in the process.

The loss went to Shane Wise of Jacksonville, dropping him to 0-1 on the year. He worked 1.1 innings, allowed the game-winning run on a hit, a walk and one strikeout. In a no-decision outing, Disch went seven innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits and recorded nine strikeouts.

Jacksonville was led at the dish by Guardascione with a 2-for-3 effort, adding two RBIs and a walk.

The BCU offense was paced by three players with a multi-hit game, including Edney, Garcia and Lao.

Bethune-Cookman continues its current 15-game homestand Friday, March 3, when the Wildcats welcome Tennessee Tech for a weekend series to Radiology Associates Field at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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