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LAKELAND, Fla.—Efficiency on the mound and at the plate proved valuable as No. 1 Southeastern finished off a series sweep of St. Xavier University. The Fire defeated the Cougars 3-1 in the first contest before polishing off the doubleheader with a 12-4 rout.
Both starting pitchers for the Fire recorded at least ten strikeouts in the competitions, with Felix Dieguez sitting 12 batters down in the opening game. The senior only allowed four hits and a lone earned run through six innings of work.
“Both pitchers did a really good job of keeping us in these games and giving us a chance to win. They found a way to punch out a lot of guys, which gave us an opportunity to get back into the dugout fast and get the offense rolling,” Head Coach Adrian Dinkel said of the starters’ performances today.
After the Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the third, Noah Strohl responded with a no-doubt solo home run to left that tied the ballgame in the fourth.
In the bottom of the sixth, SEU used hits by Mike Taylor Jr. and Ivan Nunez to take the lead. After Nunez singled in Taylor Jr., Adam De La Cruz made it 3-1 with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Nunez, putting the Fire up for good.
Heibert Romero registered his second save of the season with his 0.2 IP to end the game up two.
The latter contest featured more Fire runs, as Manuel Mesa kicked the competition off with a lead-off bomb to left center. De Le Cruz then followed suit in the second to put SEU up 2-0 after two.
Following a three-run third inning by St. Xavier, the Fire notched ten unanswered runs, including four in the bottom of the inning. Taylor Jr. scored on a wild pitch before Abdel Guadalupe brought in Strohl and Nunez with a three-run shot to right center to reclaim the lead 6-3.
SEU seized control of the game in the fourth with an RBI single by Nunez that scored Mesa and Strohl’s second home run in as many games that put the Fire up 9-3.
In five full innings of work, Jayden Hartle fanned ten Cougar batters at the plate. The junior walked only one and gave up a mere five hits to cap off impressive performances by Southeastern starters in the series.
When asked about his pitching, Hartle, who caught six of his first seven strikeout victims looking, stated, “I just started focusing on throwing strikes and letting the batters get themselves out.”
A pair of jacks in the sixth sealed SXU’s fate. Following Colton Onstott’s first home run of the year, De La Cruz’s second homer of the game, which was SEU’s sixth longball of the contest, gave the Fire a comfortable 12-3 advantage.
Freshman pitcher Zach Comins came in to pitch the seventh in relief to clinch the eight-run win. In his first collegiate appearance, Comins performed the rare feat of striking out four batters in a single inning after one of his strikeout victims reached on a passed third strike. Ryan Munoz also struck out the side in his one inning of relief work.
Hartle added, “It’ll be really fun to see how deep we are as we host a lot of teams over the next couple weeks and how that might translate to how we do in the postseason.”
The pair of victories pushed Southeastern to 18-3 on the year. SEU will now face Doane University at Ted A. Broer Stadium on Monday. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.