Hatters Win Atlantic Sun Conference Title

HATTERS ASUN CHAMPS 2016! Photo by ASunPhotos.com. ESPN screen shot.
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The Stetson Hatters completed an improbable and incredible four-day run on Saturday by holding off Florida Gulf Coast for a 5-4 victory to capture the 2016 Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament title.

The win sends the Hatters (29-29) on to play in the NCAA Tournament next weekend. It will be Stetson’s 18th trip to NCAA Regional play, the 17th under Hall of Fame head coach Pete Dunn. It will be the first trip since 2011.

The ASUN Tournament title is the first for the Stetson program since 2006. With seven all-time tournament titles, the Hatters have won more ASUN tournament crowns than any other program. Stetson is the fourth team to win the ASUN tournament title as the sixth seed.

The Hatters plated four runs in the first three innings against FGCU starter Brady Anderson (5-7). As was the case throughout the tournament, junior Vance Vizcaino lit the fuse for Stetson with a solo homer in the opening frame.

The early lead didn’t last long, however, as the Eagles’ Zach Spivey hit a two-run shot down the right field line in the second inning off Hatters starter Kevin Fagan (2-0) to give the Eagles their only lead of the game.

Stetson came right back in the bottom of the inning when Jack Machonis doubled to score Will Mackenzie. Vizcaino added an RBI groundout to put the Hatters back on top 3-2.

Senior John Fussell continued his torrid hitting with a double in the third inning, scoring tournament Most Valuable Player Cory Reid, who had also doubled, for 4-2 lead. Stetson’s final run came on a solo home run from sophomore catcher Austin Hale in the sixth inning. The blast proved to be the winning run.

Trailing by three heading into the final inning, FGCU (27-32) fought back with two runs against Stetson closer Walker Sheller. Gage Morey doubled in a run before Corey Fehribach singled him home.

That brought ASUN Player of the Year Jake Noll to the plate as a pinch hitter. Noll had missed three contests in the tournament due to an oblique injury. With a 2-2 count and the tying run on base, Noll sent a Sheller fast ball deep to centerfield, but Vizcaino raced to the wall and made a leaping catch for the final out of the championship.

Stetson finished the tournament with a .392 team batting average after entering Wednesday’s start hitting at a .251 clip. Reid, Fussell, Vizcaino and freshman Kirk Sidwell all finished with averages of at least .525 with Reid totaling six extra-base hits and eight RBI.

The Hatters will find out their NCAA Regional destination on Monday at Noon. The team will gather at the Half Wall in downtown DeLand to watch the announcement.

In addition to Reid, Stetson placed four other players on the All-Tournament team. He was joined by Vizcaino, Sidwell, Fussell and Hale. Others named to the team were Matt Reardon and Garrett Anderson from FGCU; Tevin Symonette and Lee Solomon from Lipscomb; and Kyle Brooks and Austin Drury from North Florida.

Stetson captured the 2016 ASUN Baseball TouPhotos by ASunPhotos.com
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