Panther Baseball Shuts Down Palm Beach 3-1, Behind Ward’s Complete Game
By Florida Tech // April 25, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – In need of each and every victory down the final stretch of the regular season, starting pitcher Scotty Ward rose to the occasion en route to a crucial 3-1 road win in Friday’s series opener at Palm Beach Atlantic.
Just 1-2 in his previous four starts, the senior hurled a complete game seven-hitter on a night in which his own offense sputtered to just three hits themselves, becoming Florida Tech’s first nine-game winner since 2006.
Also taking over sole possession of the Sunshine State Conference lead in wins, the lefty lowered his earned run average to an appeasing 2.04 after surrendering one unearned run and fanning four.
“It was a big win,” said head coach Greg Berkemeier after his club improved to 13-4 away from Seminick-Hall Field in 2015.
“We didn’t do a whole lot offensively, but we were able to come through with a couple runs when we needed them.”
“Scotty did a great job keeping them at bay all night, and continued to throw up zeroes when we weren’t doing a whole lot there offensively. We really needed that one, so it was good to see,” said Berkemeier.
Bumped up a day to give usual Friday night starter Ashton Fronsoe some extra rest, Ward tossed 105 pitches in the outing, retiring 10 straight Sailfish batters in the middle innings.
Although handcuffed for most of the contest, Florida Tech was aided by the Palm Beach Atlantic pitching staff’s eight walks.
After a pair of free passes in the second, David Wilson capitalized with a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield to give the Panthers the early 1-0 advantage.
The ball bounced the Sailfish’s way to begin the home half of the inning, however. Following a cue shot into right field, a throwing error and a bunt single loaded the bases with nobody out.
The next batter blasted a liner to center field for what appeared to be headed for an extra-base hit, but Kevin Wortman made a stellar grab to limit Palm Beach Atlantic to only a sacrifice fly.
Ward would then induce a fielder’s choice and a fly out to escape the inning with the score knotted at 1-1.
Still 1-1 in the eighth, the Panthers loaded the bases without taking the bats off their shoulders, earning three consecutive walks to open the frame.
After back-to-back strikeouts, it appeared the inning would end on Ryan Sinzenich’s tapper to shortstop. However, on the exchange from short to second, the PBA second baseman failed to step on the bag, allowing a pair of runs to cross home plate.
To the dismay of Sailfish fans, the costly mishap was enough to make the difference.
Ward struck out the first two batters in the ninth, before Daniel Szpik’s sliding grab in right helped seal the deal in front of the disgruntled crowd.
Friday’s opener was delayed by an hour due to showers in the area.
The Panthers and Sailfish will meet again on Saturday in a doubleheader beginning at noon at Rubin Park.
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