Florida Tech Uses The Long Ball To Top Assumption
By Zach Clark // February 23, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Continuing their early season success, the 21st-ranked Florida Tech Panthers made all the pressure-packed plays when it counted in Sunday’s series finale, earning the 6-1 victory over Assumption at home this afternoon.
Catcher Austin Allen blasted a two-run homer to key a four-run eighth inning, allowing Florida Tech to nail down its 12th consecutive win.
In securing the ‘W’, the Panthers remain the lone unbeaten in the Sunshine State Conference.
Matching a career-high with eight strikeouts, sophomore right-hander Grant Willcoxon moved to 3-0 after tossing seven sharp innings on Sunday.
The Viera High School product surrendered seven hits and one earned run in the effort, punching out six of the first nine Greyhound batters he faced.
“I thought our pitching was very good all day,” said head coach Greg Berkemeier.
“We executed from the first inning on. We gave up some hits, but our guys continued to pound the strike zone. When you do that you have a chance at success.”
Scoreless in the bottom of the fourth, right fielder Daniel Szpik sparked a two-out rally with a triple to the deepest part of the park in center.
Taking advantage of the scoring opportunity, David Wilson then belted a Steve Flynn offering over the leftfield wall to put the Panthers on the board 2-0.
After dealing early on, Willcoxon ran into a bit trouble in the fifth inning. Three consecutive singles, capped by a Matt Murphy base hit to left center, pushed one run across to cut the Florida Tech lead in half.
Still 2-1 Panthers in the top of the seventh, a pinch-hit single and a catcher’s interference call put two men aboard for Assumption.
With two away, Murphy once again found a gap in center. The runner being waved around third, center fielder Kevin Wortman fired a rope to peg Kelvin Sims at the plate, preserving the narrow edge.
Searching for some insurance, Allen greeted Rob Gambale in the home half of the eighth with an emphatic two-run shot to right to stretch the lead to 4-1.
Florida Tech would scrape across two more runs before Jerrod Leinhauser shut the door on the Greyhounds in the ninth.
“It was a big knock to give us some breathing room there,” Berkemeier said about Allen’s fifth homer of the year. “You can’t discount Grant’s (McKown) lead-off hit either, though. Earlier in the game, Wilson does the same thing. You have two outs and you get two big knocks. We did a good job of tacking on and producing, especially late in the game.”
A midweek test awaits FIT, as the Panthers now turn and travel to Florida Southern for a Tuesday night showdown with the Mocs. For complete coverage, log onto FloridaTechSports.com.
“It’s tough anytime you have to go over there,” said Berkemeier. “That’s such a great program, and we know it’s going to be a challenge for us. We have to get ourselves prepared tomorrow and see what we can do over in Lakeland.”