Pro Hockey News

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Dolphins Blank Liberty on Day Two of ASUN Championship

 DELAND ( Neither a half hour delayed start, nor a two-hour and six-minute weather delay could faze Jacksonville University baseball, who persevered through it all to shutout 3-seed Liberty 8-0 on Wednesday at Melching Field.

The Dolphins (34-23) rode strong early pitching and the offense came to life late to improve JU's record to 1-1 after two days of the ASUN Baseball Championship."I was really pleased with the way the group came out today," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "No matter what was thrown at us, the team seemed unfazed. Very encouraging to see to see them respond to the adversity we had yesterday.It is a testament to the guys and their work and their belief in each other to be able to persevere."After being shutout the day before, the offense quickly got started, scoring a run in the top of the first. Chase Malloy ripped a near double down the left field line that was ruled foul and the call stood after a video review. He patiently waited and drew a walk to get on anyway, advancing to second on a groundout and third on a wild pitch, before scoring on Kris Armstrong's sacrifice fly to left.A 1-0 lead was all Evan Chrest needed to do his part on the mound. The ASUN Freshman of the Year lived up to the billing, stymying the Liberty offense all day. The Flames managed one hit off of him in the first, a two-out triple that was stranded at third. After a 1-2-3 second, a leadoff bunt and throwing error gave Liberty a man in scoring position to start. After a sacrifice bunt moved him to third, Chrest bore down and struck out the next two to end the threat.His offense gave him more of a cushion in the fourth. After two walks put runners on, Tommy Joseph banged a double off of the wall in right field to score two and make it 3-0.Chrest stranded a man at first in the fourth and pulled off one of his best feats to end his day. A one-out walk and a two-out single put runners at the corners with two outs, but the freshman registered his seventh and final strikeout of the day to leave two more runners on.After the weather delay Leighton Alley took over on the mound and continued Chrest's scoreless work. A one-out double and a walk put some pressure on him in the sixth, but a groundout ended the inning, and Liberty never got another baserunner the rest of the game."He is very mature on the mound and came out and competed," said Hayes. "That's a really dangerous lineup, and for Evan to come out and give our guys an opportunity to put some runs on the board, it was huge and it was what we needed and what we have relied on."It is why he was freshman of the year in the conference."Conversely, the JU offense came alive in the eighth. Armstrong and Justin Nadeau hit back-to-back singles and Blake DeLamielluere knocked in Armstrong with a single. Joseph walked to load the bases and Chandler Howard came off the bench to drive in Nadeau with a sacrifice fly to right. Another walk, this time to Hogan McIntosh, loaded the bases for the second time in the inning, and Colin Wetterau followed with a two-RBI base hit to center to make it 7-0.JU tacked on one more for insurance in the ninth, with Elias Flowers drawing a leadoff walk and advanced around to score on Joseph's RBI groundout, while Jack Carver finished the ninth with two strikeouts."I think they finally stopped pressing and let the game come to them," said Hayes. "Really good job of being aggressive on balls in the zone and we had some critical at-bats that guys came up big in big spots."Overall, really positive, really good performance all around for this group today."Jacksonville has an off-day on Thursday before facing 1-seed Lipscomb at 10 a.m. on Friday. A win clinches a berth in the ASUN Championship Semifinals on Saturday, with a loss, the Dolphins could still qualify, but need help.