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Panthers Split Double-Dip With Lions

Tina Velazquez had a 2-for-3 day at the plate in game one including both RBIs. She also pitched a complete game. Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown

After having their 14-game winning streak snapped on Friday, the Florida Tech Panthers had to settle for a doubleheader split against Saint Leo on Saturday. The Panthers won game one 2-1, before dropping a 1-0 heartbreaker in game two.

The day started with a 2-1 win for the Panthers, as Tina Velazquez did double duty, driving in both Panthers runs and getting a complete game in the circle.

Velazquez (6-0) gave up an unearned run in the first inning, as she attempted to get Shyanne DuBois on a grounder back to the mound, but threw it over the head of Victoria Szrom at first and into right field. That allowed Kacie Kelly to score, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead.

The Panthers answered in the bottom of the third against SLU starter Rachel Bean. Shanysse Emerernciana singled and was moved to second. Xiarysse Emerenciana followed with a single and Shanysse went to third. The throw to third allowed Xiarysse to move to second. That brought Velazquez to the plate and she promptly singled, bringing both runner home and giving the Panthers a 2-1 lead.

Sadi Avants relieved Bean and Vanessa Rubio greeted her with a single, but the Panthers were unable to add to their lead, as Velazquez was later forced at home and Ally Carver flied out to end the inning.

Velazquez settled down after that first inning, as she retired 12 in a row, before allowing a walk to Grace Spitulski in the fifth.

Rubio helped out in the top of the sixth after Velazquez gave up a single to DuBois. DuBois attempted to steal second, but the throw by Rubio was in time. It was a delayed call by the base umpire and did not make Lions coach Erin Kinberger happy. She argued the call, but after a short discussion, it stood and the inning was over.

Florida Tech looked poised to add to their lead in the bottom of the inning when Carver and Alexus Smith singled, prompting a pitching change as Sara Neuman came in for Avants. After a walk to Szrom loaded the bases, Neumann buckled down and got the final two outs of the inning.

Velazquez got a strikeout of Kendyl Crean after a 3-0 count. She did give up a two-out triple to Kayleice Hooks, but she got Spitulski swinging to end the game.

With that, Velazquez nailed down the three-hit complete game. She gave up just the unearned run, walked one and struck out seven. She threw 78 pitches, 53 for strikes.

Offensively, Rubio, Smith and Shanysse Emerenciana went 2-for-3 for the Panthers in game one.

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

Game two was a pitchers’ Duel from the outset between Melanie Murphy and Sara Neumann. In the end, it was back-to-back doubles in the sixth inning that were the difference in a 1-0 Saint Leo win.

Mikayla Wessel Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown

Florida Tech (16-4, 4-2 SSC) had a great chance to score in the third inning when Mikayla Wessell singled and Cheyenne Nelson reached on a fielder’s choice. The Panthers would get a stolen base by Xiarysse in the inning, but they left runners at second and third.

As Velazquez did in game one, Murphy got into a groove, sending down 11 in a row, bridging the second to the sixth innings. Unfortunately, it was the seventh that was her undoing. Alexis Miniet, who came in as a defensive replacement in the fourth inning, got her first at-bat of the night leading off the seventh and doubled off the top of the wall in left center.

Amanda James would follow with a double of her own, driving in Miniet and giving Saint Leo a 1-0 lead. That would be the end of the day for Murphy (6-4), who went 6.1 innings, giving up five hits and one earned run. She threw 58 of her 83 pitches for strikes.

Velazquez would take over for Murphy in the circle. She would walk a batter before striking out one and getting the third out on batter’s interference.

Florida Tech would get Nelson on in the bottom of the seventh via the walk, but she was left stranded and the Panthers would have to settle for one win in this three-game series.

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

The Panthers will be right back at Nancy Bottge Field on Tuesday for a regional doubleheader against Wilmington University. Game one gets underway at 1:00 p.m.