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Eckerd Sweeps High-Scoring Doubleheader Against Panthers

Zac Orchard

After winning the opening game of the series Friday night, the Florida Tech Panthers returned to Andy Seminick-Les Hall Field on Saturday, for a doubleheader against the Eckerd Tritons. It was a wild day of baseball, to say the least, with Eckerd winning game one 16-2 and hanging on for a 9-7 win in game two.

Game one was a forgettable one for the Panthers. The Tritons scored in each of the first six innings, highlighted by a six-run fifth inning. Sam Crocker got the start and got the first two outs, before running into trouble. Two singles and a walk to load the bases. Nick Arrivo’s walk forced in a run and the visitors were just getting started.

The Panthers got two runners on in the bottom of the inning, but starter Nick Alonzo got Jacob Buser to line into a double play, ending the inning.

The Tritons extended the lead to 4-0 with a run in the second and two more in the third. They got two RBI singles in the fourth to make it 6-0 and they blew the game wide open in the fifth, scoring six more times. against Colin Cristello, who relieved Crocker in the fourth, though he was not solely to blame for his teams’ issues in the inning.

An error made it 7-0 and Mitch Calandra’s RBI single made it 8-0. A Fielder’s choice made it 9-0 and Garrett Hiott made it a double-digit lead with his RBI single. Arrivo and Justin Glover then hit back-to-back run-scoring singles and that made it 12-0 before the inning mercifully came to an end.

Calandra was at it again in the seventh with an RBI double, upping his teams lead to 13-0. Calandra had three hits on the day as did Achuff. Hiott and Glover had four apiece, as the Tritons pounded out 24 hits as a team.

James Gronberg finally got the Panthers on the board in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI single, scoring Kevin Capella, who walked earlier in the inning and got to second on a passed ball.

The Eckerd Barrage continued in the ninth. Hiott and Arrivo singled ahead of a pitching change that saw Jake Buck take over for Cristello. Buck was not welcomed quietly, as Glover took him deep on a 1-0 pitch, giving the Tritons a 16-1 lead.

The Panthers second run came in the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Michael Van Degna reached on an error. He later scored when Pierson Reynolds reached on a fielder’s choice.

For more info: Eckerd @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 1)

Daniel Szpik had two of the Panthers six hits in game one, he was the only Panther with a multi-hit game.

Game two saw the Panthers come back from a 6-2 deficit, only to see Eckerd score the eventual winning runs in the seventh. All this despite the Panthers loading the bases with no one out in the ninth and only getting one run across.

Andy Marzheuser got the start in game two and it didn’t take long for the Tritons to pick up where they left off in game one. Sam Cochrane saw seven pitches from Marzheuser before he took him over the wall and gave his team a 1-0 lead.

Gronberg answered for the Panther leading off the bottom of the first, taking Eckerd starter Robin Allen deep and tying the game. Raul Quintero singled and stole second and Dan Szpik walked. He wasn’t stationary for long, as Panthers coach Greg Berkemeier called for the double steal and they pulled it off.

Buser walked to load the bases and  Ryan Sinzenich hit into a double play. It was good enough to get a run in and give the Panthers a 2-1 lead and Zac Orchard struck out swinging, killing what could have been a big inning.

Speaking of big innings, the second was just that for Eckerd, as they scored five runs. Cochrane had an RBI single, Achuff added one of his own and Calandra reached on an error allowing another run to score. Hiott’s RBI single resulted in an unearned run, and a walk to Matthew Miller put the visitors up 6-2.

Marzheuser finished the second but he did not come out for the third. He pitched two innings allowing nine hits and six runs (four earned). He walked one and struck out three, throwing 37 of his 55 pitches for strikes.

Relief pitcher Rhett Willis got the Panthers through the top of the third and the offense answered the bell in the bottom of the inning. Quintero walked and Szpik reached on an error. Quintero then stole third and after Buser struck out, Szpik stole second. After Sinzenich walked to load the bases, Orchard stroked a two-run double to left, closing the gap to 6-4.

An RBI single in the top of the fourth made it 7-4 Tritons, but the Panthers found a way to battle back yet again in the bottom of the fifth, against Eckerd reliever Kevin Kane. With two outs Buser homered, making it 7-5.

Sinzenich and Orchard hit back-to-back singles and Capella chased them both home when he roped a double down the left field line, tying things up at seven.

It stayed that way until the seventh when Keith Leavitt, Jr singled to start the inning and went to third on a Hiott double. Miller was out on a fielder’s choice, but he kept his team out of the double play and got the lead run across in Leavitt, Jr. That made it 8-7 and they would score again on a Glover sac fly.

Down 9-7, the Panthers left two runners on in the eighth, setting up a ninth inning that had everything you could want as a fan. Willis struck out two in a 1-2-3 top of the frame, giving him five innings of work. He allowed five hits and three runs. He walked three and struck out two. He threw 41 of his 76 pitches for strikes and did a really good job in relief.

Brandon Castle came in to pitch the ninth for Eckerd and Buser got things going with a single. That was all for Castle, who gave way to Jarid Salisbury. Sinzenich waited him out earning a walk and Tyler Brown pinch ran for him. An Orchard suicide squeeze loaded the bases and Capella walked, bringing Buser home to make it 9-8.

Joey Favetta, who struggled in Friday night’s loss, came in with the bases loaded and nobody out. He struck out Jakob Newton and Rodnie Bernard, before getting Gronberg to fly out to the warning track in left, ending the Panthers bid to complete the comeback.

For more info: Eckerd @ Florida Tech Box Score

Orchard led the Panthers 12-hit attack with a 3-for-5 day with two RBIs. Gronberg, Buser, and Capella had two hits each.

The Panthers will host Walsh University at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday in a non-conference showdown.