Game one took three hours and 40 minutes to complete and a five-run seventh inning was the difference. In game two, it was a four-run seventh frame that gave the Nighthawks the victory.
Sam Crocker got the start for the Panthers in game one and gave up a run in the second inning but that was answered in a big way in the top of the third, as the Panthers put six on the board. North Georgia starter Steven Bower gave up a single to Joe Tesoriero start the third and was removed from the game in favor of Dallas Deavers.
After James Gronberg walked, Raul Quintero laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving both runners up. That brought Daniel Szpik to the plate and he chased both runners home with a single, giving the Panthers a 2-1 lead. A single off the bat of Zac Orchard put runners at first and third and Jacob Buser made it 3-1 with an RBI single.
That brought Ryan Sinzenich to the plate and he cleared the bases with a big fly to right, making it 6-1. That lead didn’t last long as the Nighthawks scored five runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by a three-run bomb by Andres Perez. That was the end of the day for Crocker, who was relieved by Rhett Willis. Crocker gave up five runs on six hits in two innings of work. He walked three and struck out three. Chase Suddth’s RBI single tied the game at six, before the end of the inning.
Florida Tech (1-2) regained the lead in the fourth on an RBI double by Orchard and Sinzenich reached on a throwing error that allowed Orchard to score, giving the Panthers an 8-6 lead. They held that lead until the bottom of the seventh, when the home team scored five times, with Sudduth hitting a three-run jack, giving the Nighthawks an 11-8 lead at that point.
An RBI groundout by Kevin Capella in the top of the eighth made it 11-9 and they got one more run in the top of the ninth when Gronberg walked and later scored on an error. That was as close as the Panthers got as Orchard struck out and Buser flew to left, ending the game.
Sudduth’s big day continued in game two when he took Panthers starter Andrew Marzheuser deep in the bottom of the third. Crews Taylor who doubled earlier in the inning led Sudduth home and gave the Nighthawks a 2-0 lead.
FIT got one run back in the fourth on a single from Szpik that scored Gronberg, who earned a walk to start the inning, making it 2-1. The score remained that way until the fourth inning when the Panthers scored four runs. An RBI single by Orchard tied the game at two and a three-run blast by Buser gave the visitors a 5-2 lead.
Florida Tech gave all those runs back in the bottom of the seventh, hurt by back-to-back errors, the second of which was on a ball hit by Sudduth that was misplayed by Szpik in right, allowing three runs to score and the game was tied again, 5-5. It was one of four errors committed by the Panthers in the game and it was as costly as they come.
An RBI single by Steven Tomlinson in the next at-bat proved to be the winning run, as the Panthers came up empty in the eighth and left the bases loaded in the ninth with Gronberg hitting into a fielders choice to end the contest.
For more info: (Game 2)
Florida Tech’s road trip continues next weekend when they head to St. Augustine for the Flagler Kickoff Classic. They will play Wingate at 7:00 p.m. Friday, Valdosta State Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and Flagler on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.