NCAA Tournament: Florida Tech Rallies In Late-Innings To Keep Season Alive
By Florida Tech // May 17, 2015
Tampa Rematch Up Next, First Pitch At 1 p.m.
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – In an emotional roller coaster of a contest, Florida Tech showed some guts when it mattered most Saturday evening.
After relinquishing a three-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Panthers stormed back with four in the top of the eighth to ultimately prevail 8-5 over Lynn in a win-or-go-home thriller at the NCAA South Regional.
Sticking to their year-long formula, the Panthers eventually wore out Lynn’s bullpen, even with their backs against the wall.
Grant McKown delivered the go-ahead run and reliever Jerrod Leinhauser hurled 2.2 shutout innings to help Florida Tech avoid elimination yet again, less than 24 hours after surviving top-seed West Alabama.
For the third time in as many days, Florida Tech jumped out in front in the top of the first inning. Following a lead-off single and stolen base by Reid Neal, McKown put the Panthers on the board with a RBI single before the game’s first out was even recorded.
As starting pitcher Grant Willcoxon cruised right along, Florida Tech added two more runs in the fourth to extend its advantage to 3-0.
With runners on the corners in the very next inning, Daniel Szpik delivered some two-out magic, tagging one right back up the middle to stretch the lead to four.
Lynn erased the shutout on a fifth-inning solo home run, Willcoxon’s only considerable blemish up until that point. However, the Fighting Knights offense didn’t stay quiet much longer.
With the score still 4-1 in favor of Florida Tech, Lynn recorded back-to-back singles to begin the seventh. A sacrifice bunt attempt was thrown away on the very next play to, just like that, cut the margin to 4-2. Taking a run for an out, the Panthers then surrendered another run on a RBI groundout to second. A pair of walks, a double and a single later, Lynn had all of the sudden taken its first lead of the night at 5-4.
With only six outs standing between Florida Tech and its season, the Panthers were looking for anything to spark a rally.
Igniting one in uncanny fashion, Florida Tech put the tying run aboard when David Wilson reached on a third-strike passed ball that trickled to the backstop. Cashing in on a costly mistake, Kevin Wortman followed it up with a lined shot into right center, plating Wilson all the way from first to knot the score back at 5-5.
Feeding off the exuberant energy, McKown stepped in two batters later and roped a 2-2 pitch down the left field line, allowing the Panthers to retake the lead just minutes after having the life sucked out of them.
Continuing the resurgence, Tyler Doughty then found a hole through the left side of the infield to give Florida Tech a much more comfortable three-run cushion.
Lynn didn’t go down faintly, though. The Fighting Knights brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth before Leinhauser turned them away with a strikeout to end the ball game.
Saturday marked Florida Tech’s first come-from-behind win since its 9-6 victory over Barry on April 14.
The Panthers will look to continue their improbable run in a rematch with Tampa Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
For complete coverage, log onto FloridaTechSports.com