JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - No. 2 Jacksonville collected a one-run victory to close out day two of the 2018 ASUN Conference Baseball Championship and advance into the winner's bracket. The Dolphins defeated cross-town rival North Florida 4-3 and will now face No. 1 Stetson on Friday.
The Dolphins got a great pitching performance from Spencer Stockton who pushed his record to 8-5 on the season after pitching 8.1 innings and only allowing two runs. Freshman closer Chris Mauloni came on for the final two outs to earn his 20th save of the season, extending his Jacksonville single-season and career saves lead. It was an adventurous ninth inning that propelled the Dolphins to victory as North Florida looked to have the advantage in the inning. Raff Libunao had an RBI double to make it a 4-3 game, and setup runners on second and third with only one out. After a bobble in the infield, Alex Hendricks tried to race home from third for the tying run, but stumbled down the line and was tagged out on the play.
Mauloni then struck out the final batter to finish the ball game. Jacksonville's offense produced four runs on six hits as Scott Dubrule and Angel Camacho had multi-hit efforts. Camacho drove in the opening run of the game in the bottom of the first with an RBI single to right field. He leads the ASUN in that category with 55 on the season. North Florida took the lead in the third inning when Chris Berry and Blake Voyles had RBI singles off Stockton. Jacksonville's starter settled down after that point, producing a stretch where he retired 16 of 17 batters to keep the Ospreys offense in check.
Jacksonville tied the contest in the third on a Ruben Someillan sacrifice fly, before Chris Gau produced the go-ahead run in a pinch-hitting role in the fifth. Gau golfed a bloop single into left field to put the Dolphins on top 3-2. That lead stood up until the bottom of the eighth when Franco Guardiscione hit his third homer of the season to make it a 4-2 Dolphin lead. That insurance run proved to be big as the Ospreys only managed one run in the top of the ninth against Jacksonville's star closer.
Next up for the Dolphins will be a showdown with ASUN regular season champions Stetson at 11 AM. The winner of that game advances to Saturday's ASUN Championship Final. North Florida will play an elimination game at 3 PM against Lipscomb. Tomorrow's final game of the day will also be an elimination contest to determine Saturday's second finalist.
No. 2 Jacksonville vs. No. 4 North Florida Additional Notes
- Chris Mauloni tied Stetson's Brooks Wilson for the ASUN and NCAA lead with 20 saves this season. It marks only the second time in NCAA history that two closers from the same conference produced 20 or more saves in the same season.
- For the third time this season, Spencer Stockton pitched 8.0 or more innings in a game for the Dolphins. His previous two outings of that length came against FGCU and Saint Louis.
- Scott Dubrule continued his multi-hit dominance as he collected two hits tonight. It marks the 26th time this season Dubrule has produce a multi-hit game, including four out of his last five.
- North Florida produced nine hits today with Jay Prather being the lone player with a multi-hit outing. The Ospreys had eight or more hits in four of the five games against JU this season.
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