Florida Tech Drops Sunday Doubleheader Against Nova Southeastern 4-1, 4-3
By Florida Tech // May 9, 2016
Florida Tech 27-20 (9-12)
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – A short-handed Florida Tech club put a scare into No. 15 Nova Southeastern Sunday at Seminick-Hall Field. However, clutch moments proved to be scarce as the Panthers narrowly missed out on a quality series win following a pair of 4-1 and 4-3 tightly contested losses on the regular season’s second-to-last weekend.
The Sharks’ bullpen played a considerable factor in dropping the Panthers to 27-20 overall and 9-12 in the Sunshine State Conference, especially standout right-hander Devin Raftery.
The redshirt-senior willed Nova Southeastern to victory in the first matchup of the afternoon, striking out an astonishing 11 batters in four innings of work in relief. Raftery entered in the sixth inning after starter Alexander Kline was forced from the ball game due to an apparent cut on his finger.
Yet, the move was perhaps a blessing in disguise for the visitors judging by the way Raftery kept the Panthers off balance.
Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Florida Tech erased the goose egg when a throwing error by Sharks’ catcher Michael Hernandez allowed John Sternagel to score from third base. Any chance at further cutting into the deficit went by the wayside, though, as the Panthers struck out swinging a total of seven times in the final three frames.
Florida Tech tallied nine hits in the effort, including two from Daniel Szpik, but failed to ever string much of anything together.
“It’s difficult to score runs against them as it is because they have a quality pitching staff and a quality defense,” said Florida Tech Head Coach Greg Berkemeier.
“They don’t give you a lot of opportunities so you have to be able to take advantage of the ones you do get. We weren’t able to do enough today.”
Szpik struck again in the third inning of the afternoon capper.
With the Panthers down 2-0, the sophomore returned the Julian Loret de Mola offering right back up the middle for an RBI-single before Sternagel raced all the way around from first on an added throwing error to knot the contest at 2-2.
John Sternagel nabbed his own RBI-single into center two innings later to help Florida Tech grab a slim 3-2 edge.
The lead quickly disappeared in the ensuing half inning, however, when Hernandez hammered the go-ahead two-run blast over the wall in left field for his seventh home run of the season.
Despite just five hits in the ball game, Florida Tech still managed to scrap and claw up until the final out. Needing a run in the ninth, Erik Molina sparked some momentum after reaching base on an errant throw by the Sharks’ shortstop.
A perfectly executed hit-and-run by Kevin Capella later put runners on the corners before Trent Masih loaded the bases with a two-out walk. James Gronberg then stepped into the box with a chance to be the hero, but grounded into a fielder’s choice to seal the deal for Nova Southeastern.
“We battled throughout the day, but we have to do a better job of figuring out a way to score an extra run, or prevent those extra runs for that matter,” said Berkemeier.
“I thought our guys threw the ball pretty well for the most part. We made a couple mistake pitches, though, and they made us pay. Congratulations to those guys. Obviously they have a good club and there’s a reason why they’ve won as many games as they have.”
In addition to the stellar outings from the Nova Southeastern bullpen, Florida Tech received its own share of sound performances, as Panther relievers combined to surrender just five hits and one earned run in 7.1 innings on the mound Sunday,
The Crimson and Gray will return to the diamond Friday, May 13 at 6 p.m. ET for the series opener against SSC foe Eckerd.
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