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Panthers Split Doubleheader With Saint Leo

Drew Beyer – Sports Lowdown Photo

The Florida Tech Panthers and visiting Saint Leo played 22 innings of baseball on Saturday, complete with a rain delay in the eighth inning of game two. In the end, the Panthers and Lions split the twin bill, with Florida Tech taking game one 3-2 in 10 innings and Saint Leo scoring four runs in the 12th, to take game two, 9-5.

The first pitch was thrown at 3:00 p.m. Saturday and the final out of game two was recorded at 12:31 a.m. Sunday, including a rain delay that lasted over an hour, the total time was roughly nine hours and 31 minutes when all was said, and done.

Drew Beyer, who usually closes games for the Panthers got the start in game one and pitched into the ninth, allowing two runs over 8.2 innings. He walked one and struck out four, throwing 103 pitches.

Saint Leo starter Shane Haight held the Panthers to one hit over seven innings, a single by Vincenzo Catanza in the third inning of game one. His teammates got him single runs in the first and second innings and it looked like they were going to stand up, that is until the bottom of the eighth.

Jakob Newton singled and stole second, before getting to third on a wild pitch one out later. After Rodnie Bernard walked, James Gronberg singled home Newton to cut the deficit to 2-1. After Ryan Sinzenich walked to load the bases, Haight was lifted in favor of Peyton Isaacson.

Haight threw 100 pitches over 7.2 innings, walking four striking out three and allowing three hits. Isaacson, who started the game behind the plate for Saint Leo was now in front of it and he proceeded to hit Jacob Buser with a pitch, forcing home the tying run and bringing Lions coach  Rick O’Dette out of the dugout and into the face of the home plate umpire.

He was not happy that Buser was awarded the base because he thought he just stuck his foot out, trying to get hit. In the end, it wouldn’t have mattered, because it would have been ball four. That didn’t matter to O’Dette, who ended up losing the argument anyway.

With the game tied 2-2, Beyer got the first two outs in the ninth but left with runners at the corners. Jordan Murray came on to get Florida Tech out of the jam. Raul Quintero, who made a great diving catch in foul territory in the third inning, made a heads-up play in the 10th, running to the third base bag and tagging the runner out to send the game to the bottom of the 10th.

Bernard singled to start the inning and went to second on a groundout by Gronberg. After a wild pitch moved him to third, Buser was intentionally walked to load the bases. Daniel Szpik then came up and drilled the ball to left field, missing a home run by less than a foot. He settled for a single and a walk-off win for the Panthers.

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

Florida Tech (15-26, 7-14 SSC) got off to a good start in game two, getting an RBI double from Szpik and an RBI fly out by Kevin Capella, scoring Buser in the first inning. Szpik tried to score on the play as well but was cut down at the plate.

Saint Leo starter Ryan Nolan would surrender two more runs in the second inning. Newton’s RBI triple plated Quintero and Bernard brought him in with a single, giving the home team a 4-0 lead.

Quintero, who finished 2-for-5 in game two made it 5-0 with a double in the fifth that brought Szpik home.

The Lions (31-9, 14-7 SSC) got a run in the sixth against Panthers starter Rhett Willis, who finished the sixth, allowing one unearned run on five hits. He walked two and struck out three, throwing 74 pitches.

Sam Crocker did not record an out in the seventh, walking two before giving way to Jake Lane. Saint Leo ended up scoring three times in the inning helped by an error, a Zach Scott single and a wild pitch all contributing to make it a 5-4 game.

The rain delay came just prior to the start of the eighth inning and the Lions would tie the game in the ninth with two outs. Scott walked and went to second on a wild pitch. He came home on a double by Brett Coffel, tying the game at five.

Saint Leo took the lead on an Amir Wright single leading to an unearned run. Another error allowed Scott to reach and two more runs came home. An RBI single by Will Gray made it 9-5.

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

The Panthers will host Palm Beach Atlantic next week in the final home series of the season. The opening game will be played Thursday at 6:00 p.m. Senior Day will take place Friday when the Panthers wrap up their home schedule with a doubleheader against the Sailfish. Game one is scheduled for noon.