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Eastern Florida Baseball Prevails 3-2 as Race for Postseason Heats Up

April 21, 2014 - Tough teams win tough games.

Backed into a position where it has to win its final three Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference games to earn a postseason bid Eastern Florida's baseball team responded in heart-stopping fashion on Monday.

The Titans defeated Indian River State College 3-2 at Bruce Bochy Field on Monday to get one step closer to a second-place conference finish and the automatic state tournament berth that goes with it.

The victory moved Eastern Florida to 11-11 in the conference setting up a two-game showdown with Palm Beach State (11-11) for second place. The teams play at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Lake Worth and at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Melbourne to close the regular season.

Broward College remains alive in the fight with an 8-12 record while the loss eliminated Indian River, which fell to 8-14.

Broward has two games remaining with first-place Miami Dade (16-6) and two with Indian River State.

The top two teams in the FCSAA's four conferences move on to the state tournament while the four third-place finishers play off to determine the final two entrants.

Playing like a team with its future on the line, Eastern Florida played a stellar, errorless defensive game led by shortstop J.J. Gould who had a hand in eight Indian River outs.

The Titans received strong pitching from starter Jesse Schullstrom who allowed one hit through six innings in facing just 20 batters. Schullstrom struggled in the seventh inning allowing both Indian River runs with two outs.

But he demanded the ball for the eighth inning allowing just one base runner before handing the ball to closer Chayce Hubbard for the ninth.

Hubbard allowed a led-off single and a walk but third baseman Angel Soto and Gould combined on a force play at third on a bunt for the first out and Gould began a double play for the final two outs and the victory.

Indian River was limited to five hits while Eastern Florida collected eight. However the Titans left nine runners on base over the first five innings, which was a concern for head coach Jeff Tam.

"Do we need to hit a little bit better with two outs and runners on base, I'm sure that's every team," Tam said.

"It comes down to two-out hits, that's what great teams do. We're a really good team right now. We start getting those two-out hits we'll be a force to be reckoned with.

"We won 3-2, it's a win we move on to (Tuesday) and we'll deal with (Tuesday)."

Tam was pleased with Schullstrom's effort.

"He proved to himself that he can handle the situation," Tam said. "Jesse's picked up our staff tremendously. He's done an awesome job."

For his part Schullstrom credited his pitch selection.

"My curveball wasn't working but I got my slider going early," he said. "Change-up I haven't been able to throw all year, it really helped me against left-handed batters. Fastball location was really key. It really helped me out tonight."

Soto and Nick Capra had two hits each for Eastern Florida, which scored single runs in the first, second and fourth innings. Jack Machonis scored twice for the Titans. Soto scored the third and decisive run.

And Hubbard closed the deal, getting the save.

"That's kind of my situation, being a closer that's what I live for," Hubbard said. "I was enjoying every second of it."