The Statesmen improved to 9-0 by winning the first two games of a three-game series with the Florida Southern College Mocs. DSU won the first game 12-0 and the second game 7-6. Florida Southern fell to 5-9. The final game of the series will be played today at 1 p.m. at Ferriss Field.
The Statesmen got a great overall performance at the plate from designated hitter Ben Kingsley as he went 5-for-7 with four runs and six RBIs on the day. Kingsley is currently leading the team this season in batting average (.516), RBIs (17) and slugging percentage (.710).
“Ben Kingsley had a good day all the way around,” Delta State head baseball coach Mike Kinnison said.
In the first game, the Statesmen started off slow at the plate but gained momentum as the contest progressed. Holding a slim 2-0 lead, DSU hit its stride in the bottom of the fifth. Kingsley tagged a RRBI-single, and Carlos Leal stroked a two-run single to key a five-run fifth to make the score 7-0 in favor of the Statesmen.
While the hitters were stroking the ball, starter Josh Branstetter was mowing opponents down as he retired the first 12 Florida Southern batters he faced. The Mocs didn’t get their first hit until the top of the fifth when they had two hits, but still couldn’t get any runs.
Florida Southern was able to get two more hits in the top of the eight off Branstetter, but Branstetter held the Mocs at bay.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Statesmen got Branstetter some more cushion. Sam Kidd and Michael Vinson each socked RBI-singles, while Kingsley drilled a two-run double to spearhead another five-run inning to make the score 12-0.
In the top of the ninth, DSU’s Drew Milligan came on in relief of Branstetter and retired the side in order to preserve the blowout victory.
Branstetter earned the win as he gave up just four hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in eight innings of work.
“I thought Branstetter threw great,” Kinnison said. “He was really sharp. I thought he was really good.”
As a team, Delta State stroked 16 hits at the plate and didn’t commit any errors in the field. Kingsley tagged three hits, drove in three runs and scored twice to spearhead the Statesmen, followed by Vinson with three hits, two runs and a RBI, Leal with two hits, two RBIs and two runs, Jami Rachal with two hits, Tyler Aldridge with two hits and a RBI, Jordan Chovanec with a hit and two RBIs and Kidd with a hit, a RBI and two runs.
“We did enough in the first game to build an early lead and got into their bullpen,” Kinnison said. “Florida Southern is a very good ball club, and I’m pleased with the wins.”
In the nightcap, the Statesmen jumped on the Mocs by scoring two runs in the first and four runs in the third for a 6-0 lead.
With the Statesmen still leading 6-1, Florida Southern battled back in the top of the fifth by stroking six hits and scoring five runs to tie the game at 6-6.
Delta State, however wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. In the bottom of the sixth, Kingsley came up with another clutch hit as he tagged a lead-off triple. With one out in the inning, Brent Langston tagged a single to right centerfield to score Kingsley to put the Statesmen on top 7-6.
“Kingsley had a clutch hit with a triple, and then Langston had a well hit ball and those two at-bats were really big for us,” Kinnison said.
The run would be all DSU would need as Ricky Winters, who entered the game in the fifth inning in relief of starter Colton Mitchell, tossed a scoreless top of the seventh to seal up the victory. Winters earned the win in relief as he gave up five hits but struck out two and didn’t give up a run in 2 2/3 innings of work. Winters finished with two strikeouts.
“I’m real pleased with Ricky Winters and the way he came in and pitched under pressure,” Kinnison said.
Mitchell, who got the no-decision for DSU, six runs, three earned, on eight hits with two walks and a strikeout in 4 1/3 innings of work.
At the plate, Kingsley led DSU with two hits, two runs and three RBIs, followed by Aldridge with two hits, two runs and a RBI.