No. 15 Florida Tech Sweeps Road-Series At Barry
By Florida Tech Athletic Communications // April 4, 2015
FIT Improved To 30-5 overall, 12-4 In SSC
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Living up to its billing as the Sunshine State Conference’s top statistical offense, 15th-ranked Florida Tech pounded out a combined 37 hits and 24 runs en route to a series sweep on the road at Barry Friday.
“I was proud of the way the guys played there for the vast majority of the weekend,” said head coach Greg Berkemeier.
“I felt like we let off the gas and lost focus a bit in the middle innings of the last game, but that’s the way this conference is – nobody’s going to give you anything.”
“All in all, though, it was good to see us execute enough to get two wins today,” said Berkemeier.
Following the pair of 12-1 and 12-9 victories, the Panthers now improve to 12-4 in the league and become the SSC’s first ball club to reach the 30-win mark at 30-5 overall.
Picking up where it left off in Thursday’s 14-hit effort, Florida Tech wasted no time making its presence felt with a pair of runs in the top of the first inning of Friday’s early affair.
After Grant McKown scored on a wild pitch in the dirt, Tyler Doughty followed things up with a scorcher back up the middle to give the Panthers the immediate 2-0 advantage.
In complete control up 5-0 in the fifth inning, Daniel Szpik blew the game wide open when he connected on his first career home run, narrowly missing the Florida Tech team bus beyond the right-center field wall.
One of six starters to record multi-hit efforts, second baseman Reid Neal opened the sixth with an opposite field shot to left, his third of the season, to make it 8-0.
Entering with a 1.96 earned run average, left-hander Scotty Ward had more than enough cushion to work with. Becoming a regular occurrence, the senior surrendered a single earned run in eight sharp innings to collect his eighth win of the season.
“Scotty did a great job,” added Berkemeier.
“He executed all day, and threw eight more quality innings for us. He left one pitch up that they put a good swing on, but for the most part, he executed time and time again.”
In a near four-hour marathon, the Panthers capped the series sweep in the definition of a shootout.
Similar to game one, the Panthers didn’t hesitate to get the offense going.
After plating one run in the first, McKown launched his second dinger in as many days to extend the lead to 4-0 following a three-run second inning.
It appeared as though the Panthers were going to cruise to another double-digit win up 8-2 in the fourth, but Barry wasn’t going to go quietly on its home turf. A five-run home half of the inning narrowed the margin to 8-7 in a matter of minutes.
However, the Bucs’ momentum didn’t last long.
Highlighted by an Austin Allen two-run double, Florida Tech answered the call with four more runs in the top of the fifth to silence the crowd at Feinbloom Field.
In on relief in the ninth, closer Jerrod Leinhauser converted his league-leading eighth save to secure the Panthers’ fourth straight win over Barry.
The trio of Allen, Neal and Kevin Wortman notched three-hit performances in each of Friday’s contests. Neal is now 19-for-29 in his last seven games.
“The offense is doing a good job from the standpoint of just continuing to battle and put together good at-bats,” said Berkemeier. “They haven’t given many at-bats away, and it’s a team effort.”
FIT will return to action on Tuesday at 6 p.m., as it travels to Flagler for a non-conference showdown with the Saints.
The Panthers fell 5-1 in an earlier meeting at home back on March 24.