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Panthers Come From Behind to Beat Eckerd

Jacob Buser – Sports Lowdown photo

In a game that featured 27 combined strikeouts and 17 hits, the Florida Tech Panthers scored five runs in the eighth inning Friday night and beat Eckerd 9-5, in a Sunshine State Conference game at Andy Seminick-Less Hall Field.

The pitchers were in control early, as Ty Cohen and Dillion McCollough matched up to start, with Cohen pitching into the seventh and McCollough getting through seven. When all was said and done, the Panthers were able to snap their five-game losing streak and send Eckerd to their sixth consecutive loss.

Cohen struck out the side in the third inning and the first two hitters in the fourth, while McCollough matched that feat in fourth and fifth.

Florida Tech (5-10, 1-3 SSC) dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the third, taking advantage of two walks from McCollough. Two sacrifice bunts put runners at second and third before Raul Quintero cleared the bases with a two-run single. He went to second on the throw and later scored on a single by Daniel Szpik. A double by Jacob Buser made it 4-0.

Eckerd (5-8, 0-4 SSC) chipped away with an RBI single by Keith Leavitt, Jr in the fourth and a solo home run by Nick Conti in the fifth, cutting the Panthers lead in half, 4-2.

Shane LeMaster started the seventh with a single and went to third on a double by Justin Glover, who hit it over the head of James Gronberg in center. Gronberg came up firing and hit the cut-off man, Rodnie Bernard, who threw home and Zac Orchard put the tag down just in time.

Cohen struck out one more and threw a wild pitch, before leaving the game in favor of Drew Beyer with a 2-2 count on Conti. With Glover at third, Conti drew a walk and Sam Cochrane singled to drive in a run and cut it to a 4-3 lead. A throwing error by Bernard allowed the tying run to score, but Buser chased the ball down and threw Cochrane out at the plate, preserving the tie.

That closed the book on Cohen, who pitched  6.2 innings, allowed seven hits and three runs (two earned). He did not walk a batter and struck out nine. He threw 94 pitches, 66 for strikes.

The Tritons got to Beyer in the eighth. Mitch Calandra doubled and scored on a sac fly by Garrett Hiott, giving the visitors a short-lived 5-4 lead.

With seven innings and 121 pitches under his belt, McCollough did not go to the mound for the eighth. He pitched a heck of a game, giving up three hits and striking out 12. All four of the runs were earned, but the Panthers were certainly glad to see him go.

Joey Favetta started the eighth and struggled out of the gate with a walk to Gronberg. Quintero laid down a bunt that carried Favetta toward first. He couldn’t pick it up cleanly and the Panthers had two on. An RBI single by Szpik tied the game at five. Buser followed with a two-run single and went to second on an errant throw. With that, the Panthers took a 7-5 lead.

That was it for Favetta, who gave way to Brandon Castle after facing four batters. After Orchard walked, Castle got Jared Pearson to strikeout for the fourth time. Pinch-hitter Kevin Capella singled, loading the bases. Bernard was hit by a pitch, scoring the eighth run and Gronberg, who started the inning with the walk, drew another one and earned an RBI with this one. Gardner Nutter came in to retire Quintero and end the inning.

When it was finally over, the Panthers sent 11 men to the plate and scored five runs, taking a 9-5 lead to the ninth inning. That was more than enough for Beyer (1-1) who struck out the side to put an exclamation point on the first conference win of the season for the home team.

Quintero and Szpik both had two hits and two RBI’s. Buser had two hits and three RBI’s.

Injury news: Panthers catcher Ryan Sinzenich did not play in this game. He was hit by a pitch two different times on Tuesday night against Palm Beach Atlantic. No update was given on his injury.

For more info: Eckerd @ Florida Tech Box Score

A doubleheader on Saturday will finish up this three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for noon.