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No. 1 Southeastern Closes Out Regular Season with Series Sweep against Thomas Night Hawks
LAKELAND, Fla. – The Fire honored their 15 graduating seniors on Senior Day with something better than plaques and flowers: a championship. For the first time in program history, the No. 1 Southeastern University baseball team won The Sun Conference Regular Season Championship. SEU earned the title with a doubleheader sweep of the Thomas University Night Hawks Saturday afternoon. The Fire blasted their way to a 15-1 10-run rule win in the first game before defeating TU 8-1 in the series’ finale. Southeastern finishes the regular season 47-5, including 20-4 in TSC play.
GAME ONE: After surrendering the opening run of the contest to Thomas in the top of the first, the Fire responded with 15 unanswered runs on 16 hits to smother the Night Hawks.
The SEU lineup hit an astounding .643 (9-14) with runners in scoring position in game one of the doubleheader.
Junior outfielder Abdel Guadalupe belted his 16th home run of the season in the bottom of the second, a two-run shot that put SEU ahead 2-1. Guadalupe is now two long balls away from tying the single-season program record for home runs.
Senior outfielder Manuel Mesa was 3-5 with four RBIS and two runs scored, including his seventh triple of the season in the bottom of the fifth.
Senior third baseman Ivan Nunez also recorded a four-RBI game, earning all of his runs batted in with one swing of the bat. The Miami native smashed a grand slam home run in the bottom of the second to put SEU ahead 7-1.
Senior outfielder Dan Valerio got in on the long ball action, towering his ninth homer of the season over the left-center fencing in the bottom of the fourth to grow the Fire lead to 10-1.
Bronx N.Y. native and senior shortstop Adam De La Cruz was 3-5 in game one, including an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth.
Senior left-handed pitcher Felix Dieguez earned the Senior Day win with five strong innings on the mound. Dieguez surrendered the lone run on four hits, walked two, and struck out six.
Junior lefty Ryan Munoz tossed two shutout innings of relief to close out the contest.
GAME TWO: Austin Covers retired the first nine Thomas’ hitters he faced in game two of the doubleheader. The senior left-handed pitcher struck out six of those night TU bats to punctuate his three perfect opening frames. A triple in the top of the fourth by Chase Hinson broke up Covers’ perfect start.
At the plate, the Fire did most of their damage in the first frame. SEU plated six of its eight runs on five hits in the bottom of the first to take a commanding 6-0 lead.
Nunez, Guadalupe, and Mike Taylor Jr. each had RBI doubles in the big inning. Senior catcher Willie Estrada capped off the frame with an RBI single to left.
Junior righty Jayden Hartle earned his seventh win of the season with three innings of effective relief. Hartle surrendered two hits, no runs, walked just one, and struck out five.
Senior relievers Kasey Gast and Heibert Romero earned time on the mound to close out the contest.
Top-seeded Southeastern will face sixth-seeded Thomas in a rematch in the first round of The Sun Conference Tournament in West Palm Beach next Friday.
DINKEL’S DUGOUT: “Winning the conference regular season title was a goal we set at the beginning of the year and we put ourselves in a hole midway through. I was proud of the way our guys fought through this stretch and it is the most proud I have ever been of a regular season conference championship.” –Adrian Dinkel, Southeastern Head Coach.