Regional tournament in doubt as team has lost 5 of last 6 in conference
By Devon Jeffreys
Photo by Glenn Judah
PHOTO CAPTION: Senior pitcher Paul Matthews has been a horse for the team out of the bullpen, posting an 8-1 record with a 3.80 ERA in 22 appearances for the Saints. Matthews’ only loss came in a 4-2, 13-inning loss to Embry-Riddle.
The Saints baseball team may have watched their chances for a postseason berth slip away.
The team entered a three game series with the Embry Riddle Eagles on April 8 and 9 with a chance to put themselves in prime position for a run at the regional tournament, but hit a roadblock in the Eagles. They left the three-game series in need of some help to make it back to the regional tournament.
The Saints entered the series with a record of 27-16 and were 11-4 since March 14. “We’ve played well at times,” coach Dave Barnett said. “We just preach to our players consistency. We’ve just got to put all parts of our game together defensively, offensively and on the mound. When we do that, we’re a pretty good team.”
The Saints’ conference record stood at 7-5 going into the series with the Eagles after the team had lost two of three games to Webber International in Babson Park. The Saints had hoped to reverse their fortunes but instead were dealt another large blow to their chances at a postseason.
The Eagles rode a 14-game winning streak into the series and in the first game shutout the Saints 4-0. The Saints managed just six hits in the game and wasted a strong performance from pitcher Tim Desutter. The next day featured a doubleheader and Flagler came out scuffling once again. They managed just one run on 5 hits in the 9-1 loss. The lone run came on a home run by Kris King, his team leading fifth of the season.
The final game of the series featured a marathon pitcher’s duel. Flagler ace Wes Burgess went 10 innings in the nightcap allowing just two runs on nine hits, but his performance was also wasted by a meager offensive showing from the Saints. Flagler plated its lone two runs in the sixth on back-to-back singles by Shane Darnofall and Glenn Kiture. The game remained tied at two until the top of the 13th when the Eagles scored two runs against reliever Paul Matthews securing the sweep.
A lack of offensive production has plagued the Saints in their losses. The team is undefeated (12-0) when scoring more than 8 runs in a game. By the same token, the Saints are just 2-11 when scoring 2 runs or less. Kiture thinks the team needs to stick to their game plan to score runs and get the victory. Kiture has been a bright spot for the team hitting .303 and named Florida Sun Conference Player of the Week for the week of March 28.
“I’m not trying to amaze anyone out here,” Kiture said. “I’m just trying to do my part as a team player.”
Shortstop Randy Miller has continued his hot streak, hitting .398 with 30 RBIs for the Saints. “We need to get key hits, with runners in scoring position,” Miller said.
A lot will need to fall into place for the Saints to make it into the regional tournament. The first step for the team comes in winning upcoming series with St. Thomas and Northwood. With a 7-8 conference record, the Saints have fallen into sixth place in the conference and because Embry Riddle is hosting and receives an automatic bid, the Saints must get into the top three to assure themselves a berth.