Pressure Heats Up For Florida Tech Baseball After Loss To Tampa 12-6
By Florida Tech // May 15, 2015
Must Win Out To Keep Season Alive
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Following a promising start, and an early 5-2 advantage, the Florida Tech Panthers ultimately found themselves unable to keep Tampa off the scoreboard Thursday night.
The result – a 12-6 setback in the opening round of the NCAA South Regional.
“We just didn’t play well,” said head coach Greg Berkemeier.
“I don’t think either team was really happy with the way they played tonight (both teams committed a combined eight errors). Obviously they’re happy to pick up the win, but we didn’t and now have our backs against the wall. We’ll see what we’re really made of.”
Tampa had Florida Tech’s number during the regular season, notably Thursday’s starting pitcher Chase Sparkman. However, following his complete-game effort back on April 17 the Panthers seemed to had solved the Spartan ace this time around.
The talks of a shutout were silenced just two batters into the ball game when Grant McKown belted a 1-2 offering beyond the left field wall for a two-run home run, giving Florida Tech an early boost of confidence.
Still with only one out in the top of the first, Tampa botched a tailor-made double play opportunity, allowing Ricky Rodriguez to score from third to extend the Panthers’ lead to 3-0.
With .321 being the lowest batting average in the Tampa lineup, it was only a matter of time before the Spartans answered.
Following a pair of singles to lead off the bottom of the second inning, both runners advanced into scoring position on an uncharacteristic balk from Florida Tech starter Scotty Ward. Consecutive RBI groundouts ensued, as Tampa drew within a run.
Florida Tech continued its offensive groove, though, in the third.
Ahead 1-0 in the count, Austin Allen lifted a deep fly onto the berm in right center for his team-leading 11th home run of the season. A David Wilson RBI single deep in the hole at short would later stretch the Panthers’ margin back out to 5-2.
Yet, the defense was unable to maintain its edge.
Tampa loaded the bases with nobody out in the home half of the frame thanks to a single coupled with a throwing error and a runner reaching on a third-strike passed ball. The Spartans would then push across a run on a hit by pitch, and knot the score up on a two-run double. Another base knock gave them their first lead of the night at 6-5, one they wouldn’t surrender.
Trailing 7-5, Florida Tech cut the deficit in half on a Reid Neal sacrifice fly, but the momentum instantly swung back in Tampa’s favor after the Spartans tallied three more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Thursday’s defeat marked the first time this season Florida Tech has lost when either Allen or McKown have recorded a home run.
FIT must now win out in order to keep its season alive, as it sets to face host West Alabama Friday at 4 p.m. ET.
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