The Florida Tech Panthers baseball team played their home-opener Saturday, beating the Drury Panthers handily, 11-1 in game one of a doubleheader and snapping a five-game losing streak in the process.
After the Panthers beat the University of North Georgia in their first game of the season on February 2, they went on to lose five in a row. On Saturday, they put that in the rear-view mirror in a big way.
Florida Tech pounded out 13 hits and got a stellar pitching performance from Ty Cohen, who allowed two hits over his seven innings of work. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter, picking up his second win of the young season.
Zac Orchard led the way for the Panthers with a 3-for-3 day. He had two RBIs and scored two runs. Raul Quintero went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and Jacob Buser was 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
The scoring barrage started innocently enough with a single run in the bottom of the first. After retiring the first two batters Drury starter Austin Simms hit Daniel Szpik with a pitch. He stole second and went to third on a passed ball. He would score on an Orchard single down the line in right.
Florida Tech would get three more runs in the bottom of the third. James Gronberg and Quintero hit back-to-back singles to start the frame. One out later Orchard singled home Quintero to make it 2-0. Jacob Buser singled to load the bases and Ryan Sinzenich drew a walk, making it 3-0. Jakob Newton’s fielder’s choice brought home the final run of the inning.
Szpik got things going in the fifth drawing a leadoff walk and that forced a pitching change as Drury went with Spencer Witherspoon. Orchard then drove one down the line in left, but he overran the second base bag and was tagged out. With Szpik at third, Buser got the ball in the air for a sac fly, giving the Panthers a 5-0 lead. After Sinzenich doubled, Newton singled to right field and chased Sinzenich home with the sixth run.
Tom Tewes started the sixth inning on the mound for Drury and Florida Tech jumped on him early. Vincenzo Catanza led off with a double to right and went to third on a grounder by Gronberg. After Quintero grounded out, Szpik doubled home Catanza.
After Orchard was hit by a pitch, Buser doubled down the line in right, giving the Panthers a 9-0 lead.
Florida Tech coach Greg Berkemeier made some changes in the eighth inning taking Szpik, Newton, Orchard, and Buser out, along with Cohen who was relieved by Rhett Willis.
Willis gave up two hits in the inning including an RBI single to Caleb Essick, getting Flagler on the board. The home team would answer in the bottom of the inning as Newton and Pierson Reynolds drew back-to-back bases-loaded walks and giving the Panthers their final margin of victory, 11-1.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Drury Box Score (Game 1)
The Panthers (3-5) got off to a quick start in game two with two first-inning runs. Gronberg was hit by an Alex Austin pitch and went to second on a Quintero grounder. Szpik walked and came home one batter later when Buser doubled down the left field line.
Drury (0-2) would get one run back in the second on an error by Buser at first, but the Panthers answered in the bottom of the frame when Szpik hit a bases-clearing double, scoring Joe Tesoriero who singled to lead off the inning, Gronberg who was hit by a pitch and Quintero, who walked. That made it 5-1.
The visiting Panthers came back with three of their own in the top of the third. Brandt Ollinger’s RBI single made it 5-2 and K.K. Daniel then doubled and it turned into a little league type play, that allowed not only Ollinger to score, but Daniel as well. When all was said and done, it was a 5-4 contest.
Crocker (1-1) went the first five innings for Florida Tech, giving up four runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out two before giving way to Drew Beyer who struck out six en route to a four-inning save, his second of the season.
The score remained unchanged until the bottom of the sixth when Gronberg walked and went to second when Quintero grounded back to the mound. He then stole third and came home on a Szpik line drive that was tracked down in center.
The final run of the night came in the eight when Newton scored on a passed ball. Szpik finished with four RBIs in this one and Gronberg scored three runs. Buser finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Sinzenich was 2-for-3.
Crocker (1-1) went the first five innings for Florida Tech, giving up four runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out two before giving way to Drew Beyer who picked up a four out save, his second of the season.
For more info: Drury @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 2)
The series wraps up Sunday when these two teams meet one more time. First pitch is set for noon at AndySeminick-Les Hall Field.