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Panthers Upset Top-Ranked Spartans

Rodnie Bernard went 3-for-4 in the Panthers 6-5 win over Tampa on Friday. Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown

The Florida Tech baseball team opened Sunshine State Conference play on Friday, with a 6-5 win against the Tampa Spartans, who came into the game ranked number one.

It wasn’t the prettiest of games, with the teams combining for six errors, but the Panthers got the job done, behind a 3-for-4 night at the plate from Rodnie Bernard. He also scored two runs.

He got things going for the Panthers, leading off the bottom of the second with a double against Tampa starter Keven Pimentel. Alec Eldridge moved him to third and Blaise Maris was then hit by a pitch, putting runners at the corners. Jakob Newton then walked to load the bases, and one out later, Raul Quintero was hit by a pitch to force in the first run of the game.

Quintero was lifted from the game after being hit by the pitch. He was replaced by Pedro Rivera at shortstop.

Tampa (8-3, 0-1 SSC) answered with two runs in the top of the third against Panthers starter Andy Marzheuser. A walk and two singles loaded the bases with one out. Danny Sirven stepped in and ripped a two-run single down the line in left, putting the Spartans up 2-1.

Marzheuser bounced back to get Danny Maynard to ground into an inning-ending double-play, avoiding further damage.

The Spartans would score an unearned run in the fourth when Danny Blair doubled home Keenan Bell with the third Tampa run. Blair would later try to score on a passed ball, but Maris recovered the ball behind home plate and tossed it to Marzheuser, who got the tag down in time.

Florida Tech (4-5, 1-0 SSC) would get one run back in the bottom of the inning, with a Newton single starting things off. He stole second and after Vinny Catanza walked, both runners moved up on a Rivera sacrifice. A James Gronberg ground out was good enough to cut the Tampa lead to 3-2.

Justin Barney relieved Marzheuser in the top of the fifth. The Panthers ace gave up three runs (two earned) in his four innings of work. He walked two and struck out six, throwing 73 pitches.

Tampa would go up 4-2 in the top of the sixth, helped by a Barney balk and an RBI single off the bat of Mikey Navarette. Tampa would take that lead into the bottom of the eighth.

Tyler Beck, who came in in relief of Pimentel in the seventh, ran into trouble with one out in the eighth. Bernard singled and went to third on an error that allowed Eldridge to reach. Maris followed with an RBI single, making it a 4-3 game. Eldridge would score the tying run on an error, and a wild pitch would give the Panthers a 5-4 lead. Another wild pitch later in the inning allowed Newton to score and with that, the Panthers had a 6-4 lead.

Ryan Allain came in to pitch the ninth, taking over for Jordan Murray, who picked up the win. Allain walked a batter and threw a wild pitch, allowing pinch-hitter Nick Derr to drive in the Spartans fifth run, with a single. Derr would get to second on a passed ball, but Allain struck out Bell to end the game, giving Allain his first win of the season.

For more info: Tampa @ Florida Tech Box Score 

The series wraps up tomorrow with a doubleheader at Andy Seminick-Les Hall Field. Game one gets underway at 1:00 p.m.