Panthers Split Doubleheader with Eckerd

Alexus Smith was 4-for-7 with three RBIs in Saturday’s doubleheader- Photo credit: James Ragan Photography

The Florida Tech Panthers finished their 2018 road schedule on Saturday, splitting a doubleheader with the Eckerd Tritons. McKenzie Krutsinger got her ninth win of the season, pitching a complete game in game one and leading the Panthers to a 4-0 win.

In game two, Melanie Murphy was cruising until the Tritons Carrie Shere hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning. Eckerd ultimately hung on for a 3-2 victory.

The Panthers got off to a good start in game one, when Mikayla Wessel walked and stole second. She stole third one out later and Makayla Palmer chased her home with a double to left field, against Tritons starter Janna Gaburo.

Palmer got the offense going in the third, drawing a one-out walk. After Vanessa Rubio walked, both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Alexus Smith singled in Palmer to make it 2-0 and Ally Carver followed with an RBI single of her own, giving the visitors a 3-0 lead. The final run of the inning came on a single by Xiarysse Emerenciana later in the frame.

Gaburo did get out of the inning, stranding runners at second and third and she did not come out for the fourth, relieved by Grace Willeck. She retired the first six batters she faced and allowed just one hit the rest of the way.

Wessel was a defensive star in the bottom of the third. Krutsinger gave up a leadoff walk in the bottom of the third to  Meredith McGinnis but Carly Coleman flew into a double play, as Wessel threw from center back to first base and McGinnis, who strayed too far from first, was out. Nikole Van Gennup then singled, but Wessel played it well in center and threw her out, trying to stretch it to a double.

Florida Tech turned another double play in the sixth to get out of trouble and the Tritons left two runners on in the seventh, only to see Krutsinger pitch out of it. She scattered six hits in the game, walking one and striking out four.

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

Game two was a pitcher’s duel between Nikole Van Gennep and Murphy, the same two who battled in Friday’s series opener.

Smith singled in the top of the second and Wessel singled in the top of the fourth, while Murphy had a no-hitter through four innings. Smith singled again in the top of the fifth, but the Panthers left her at second.

Dana Paul reached on an error to get the Tritons started in the bottom of the fifth. Crystal Garcia followed with a bunt single and they both moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Chelsea Armstrong. That set the stage for Carrie Shere, who celebrated Senior Day with a three-run homer, putting her team up 3-0.

Wessel continued her phenomenal day with a single to start the sixth but was caught stealing later in the inning. That would prove costly because Palmer doubled and Rubio singled to put runners at the corners. After Lexi Bettermann was called on to pinch-run for Rubio, Smith came through again with a two-run single, closing the gap to 3-2. Van Gennep came back to strike out Carver to end the inning.

Florida Tech (30-20, 13-12 SSC) were retired in order in the seventh, giving the Tritons the victory.

For more info: Florida Tech @ Eckerd Box Score (Game 2)

The Panthers will play their final series of the regular season against Lynn University. Game one of that series is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Thursday and will wrap up on Friday with a doubleheader, starting at noon. The Panthers will celebrate Senior Day on Friday, between games.