Florida Tech watched a four-run lead vanish Saturday, as North Georgia exploded for five runs in the fifth inning en route to a 5-4 win at Andy-Seminick-Les Hall Field.
Florida Tech (0-2) had nine hits in the loss. Rodnie Bernard went 2-for-4, Jakob Newton went 2-for-3 with a home run, and Blaise Maris went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Colin Cristello pitched well for the Panthers and deserved a better fate. He went 5.2 innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on six hits. He had five strikeouts and walked one batter.
The Panthers offense got going in the second inning. Dylan Owens hit back-to-back singles against North Georgia starter Steven Bower. A groundout by Newton advanced both runners. Maris then grounded to third and that brought Owens home with the first run.
Newton’s home run came with two outs in the fourth inning, against Nighthawks reliever Brock Carter, giving the Panthers a 2-0 lead. FIT added two runs in the bottom of the fifth, when Jacob Buser singled home Raul Quintero. James Gronberg then scored on a wild pitch, giving the Panthers a 4-0 lead.
Things went south for Florida Tech in the top of the sixth and it started when Bernard committed an error at second, allowing Crews Taylor to reach. A Chase Sudduth single got Taylor to third and he came home on a Conner Corbitt single, getting North Georgia on the board.
After Nik Levensteins singled to center driving in two runs, making it 4-3, Ryan Allain was called out of the bullpen to take over for Cristello. Allain promptly gave up a single to Nick Clarno and Josh Profit tied the game with a single to center, Allain uncorked a wild pitch to give the Nighthawks a 5-4 lead.
Florida Tech had multiple chances to push that tying run across, stranding two runners in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
Parker Morrison pitched the eighth and ninth for North Georgia, earning his second consecutive save.
For more info: North Georgia @ Florida Tech Box Score
The series wraps up Sunday at 11:00 a.m., as the Panthers look to avoid the sweep.