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Panthers Beat North Georgia in Opener

Daniel Szpik – Photo credit: James Ragan Photography

It was a productive opening day for the Florida Tech baseball team on Friday as they beat #23 North Georgia by the score of 7-4. The Nighthawks who are coming off an NCAA Division II Championship run were 46-12 last year including 27-4 at home. A loss on their field is rare but the Panthers hung one on them early.

Ty Cohen (1-0) did what Ty Cohen does on the mound, giving the Panthers six good innings and home runs from Pierson Reynolds and Daniel Szpik were the big blows on offense.

Cohen and freshman Cade Heil matched zeros through the first four innings of this one before Florida Tech broke through in the fifth. Vincenzo Catanza walked to start the frame but was caught stealing. That would prove costly, as Reynolds took Heil deep in his first official at-bat for the Panthers. He did have a plate appearance in the third inning, drawing a walk.

North Georgia got the run back in the bottom of the inning when William Mapes laid down a bunt with runners on first and third, the ball was fielded by Cohen but his toss to catcher Ryan Sinzenich was dropped.

Florida Tech regained the lead in the top of the sixth. Raul Quintero was hit by a pitch to start the inning and went to second on a fielders choice. He would move to third on a wild pitch and came home on a single by Zac Orchard. A sac fly by Sinzenich later in the inning made it 3-1.

The Nighthawks would answer back in their half of the inning as Conner Corbitt took Cohen deep with a two-run shot, tying the game at three. This would get Heil off the hook, as he was yanked before finishing the top of the inning.

With one out in the seventh, Panthers leadoff man James Gronberg was hit by a Logan Burt pitch. He would steal second and one out later, he led Szpik around the bases after Szpik hit one out of the yard, giving the Panthers a 5-3 lead.

Cohen would not pitch the seventh, giving way to Andrew Beyer. It was a good opening day outing for Cohen, who threw 101 pitches, giving up three hits and three earned runs over six innings. He walked three and struck out seven.

Beyer would allow one run in the bottom of the seventh on a Nick Clarno RBI double with two down in the inning. That made it 5-4.

In the top of the eighth newcomer, Jacob Buser hit one to right field that Corbitt seemed to lose in the lights. It went as a double for Buser and he would later score on a wild pickoff throw by pitcher Parker Morrison who had just entered the game.

The Panthers final run came in the ninth when Szpik scampered home on a wild pitch after he was hit by a pitch to start the inning and went to third on a single by Orchard who finished the day 3-for-5 at the plate with an RBI and a run scored.

For more info: Florida Tech @ North Georgia Box Score

These two teams will wrap up this series on Saturday with a doubleheader. Game one is slated for a 1:00 p.m. start.