Slow start can’t keep Saints down

Photo by Glenn Judah
Freshman shortstop Cale Owen stands at the plate in the home opener against Tennessee Wesleyan. The Saints won the game 6-5.

Win against Georgia Southwestern snaps Flagler’s five-game losing streak

By Devon Jeffreys

Despite sporting a 3-8 record to start their season, the Flagler Saints are confident things will even out by the end of a long season.

“We’ve got 43 games left,” Coach Dave Barnett said. “No need to panic. We just have to get better. Be more consistent in all areas.”

The Saints started out the season against Tennessee Wesleyan — the No. 14 team in the NAIA. On a Friday night when the Saints honored their first major leaguer, Chris Barnwell, they won their home opener. They would lose both ends of a doubleheader the following day before evening the series with a victory on Sunday.

Sitting at 2-2, the Saints took to the road. The team they would travel to play, however, Florida Southern, would prove to be more than they could handle. The Moccasins are the No. 3 team in NCAA Div. II and won the national championship in 2005.

In the series opener, Florida Southern let their bats do the talking, smashing three home runs en route to a 12-5 victory. Game two featured more of the same. The Moccasins hit five more home runs and powered past the Saints 15-5.

In the final game, Saints pitcher Tim Desutter kept the Moccasins in single digits offensively, but was out-pitched by Florida Southern’s Jeremy Thorne who shut out the Saints 6-0.

“I can’t say that we lost the three games because we didn’t play well,” Barnett said. “They just handled our pitching. I just told the whole team that I’m hoping that’s the best hitting team we’ll face all year. I was amazed, I’d never seen a team hit top to bottom like that.”

The Saints came out of the series hoping to reverse their fortunes and had an opportunity to take the lead in the ninth, down 9-8 with the bases full and two outs, but pinch hitter Billy Johnson struck out to end the game.

“We’ve got to look back on the mistakes we made, figure out how we can fix them and put that to use in upcoming games,” sophomore pitcher Austin Donmoyer said. “In baseball, you go on streaks. You have your highs and your lows. If you’re down in a low streak, you have to work to get better. Put the games you didn’t play well behind you.”

The Saints moved on for a three-game weekend set against Georgia Southwestern. After dropping the first game 2-1, Donmoyer took the hill and allowed just five hits and one run over five innings in leading the Saints to a 6-1 win and snapping a five game losing skid.

However, the Saints did not maintain their focus and fell to the Hurricanes 11-7 in their third and final game of the series on Feb. 18.

Sporting a staff earned run average over seven as of Feb. 15, the Saints will need stronger pitching to be successful this year.

“I still think we have a good pitching staff,” Barnett said. “We just need to do a little bit better job of pitching and not throwing. We’ve got to make better pitches at crucial times.”

Leading the Saints offensively are Brad Jackson and Kenny Ray. As of Feb. 15, Jackson has a .393 average on the season and two home runs. Ray is hitting .321 with five RBIs. However, with a .230 team average, 59 strikeouts and 55 men left on base, the Saints offense knows they need to step up, too.

“We just have to get guys in somehow,” Ray said. “We’re hitting with two outs and leaving them on from that. We need to start hitting with less outs.”

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