Panthers Take Two in St. Pete

Jacob Buser Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown

Florida Tech bounced back from Friday’s loss in a big way, sweeping a doubleheader at Eckerd 8-7 and 16-7. Jacob Buser had a monster day at the plate, knocking in the decisive runs in game one, in a 3-for-5 performance with three RBIs. He topped that in game two with a 3-for-4 performance, including two home runs and four RBIs. He also scored three runs.

When all was said and done, Buser tallied six hits in nine at-bats and put up seven RBIs. He had a lot of help in both games, as the Panthers had 32 hits as a team in the two games.

Dylan Owens got the Panthers offense going in game one, with a second-inning home run. The Panthers would put three on the board in the third with an RBI single by Buser. He would score on a wild pitch by Eckerd starter Robin Allen. It was his third wild pitch of the inning and gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead. Jakob Newton‘s solo homer would make it 4-0.

Eckerd would start the comeback in the bottom of the fifth against Florida Tech starter Colin Cristello. Mitch Calandra singled home Keith Leavitt Jr., who walked earlier in the inning. Leavitt Jr. would knock in the second of two runs in the sixth inning with a double, trimming the Panthers lead to 4-3.

That was the end of the day for Cristello, who pitched 5.2 innings, allowing three runs on nine hits. He walked one and struck out three, throwing 90 pitches before giving way to Justin Barney. He got the Panthers out of the inning with a strikeout.

An RBI single by Sam Cochrane and a sacrifice fly helped the Tritons go up 5-4 in the seventh inning. They would score two more in the eighth against Luis Moriyon, on a two-run single by Garrett Hiott. With that, the home team took a 7-4 lead to the ninth.

Joey Favetta came in to try to nail down his second save in as many games for Eckerd, but the Panthers had other ideas. Blaise Maris singled and came home on a double by Brett Parris. Rodnie Bernard‘s single would bring Parris home, cutting the deficit to one, and after a walk, Favetta was done.

Cameron Lanzilli came in to try to preserve the 7-6 lead, but after a wild pitch moved runners to second and third, Buser came up and ripped one down the left field line, bringing home two and giving the Panthers an 8-7 lead.

Ryan Allain came in to save the game for the Panthers, striking out two of the three batters he faced. It was Allain’s fourth save of the season. Rhett Willis (1-0) picked up the win for the Panthers, throwing just one inning, striking out two.

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

There would be no comeback needed in game two, as the Panthers offense scored six runs in the first inning against Eckerd starter Drew Martin. James Gronberg walked and Bernard singled, setting the table for Parris, who sent one deep over the right field wall, putting three on the board. After Buser and Newton drew back-to-back walks, Maris made Martin pay with the second three-run bomb in the inning.

The Panthers (7-7, 4-2 SSC) did not score in the second inning, but Martin would walk a batter, ending his day. He was replaced by Jarid Salisbury, who would have his own problems in the third, giving up an RBI single to Bernard and a three-run bomb to Buser, giving the Panthers a 10-0 lead.

After a single by Calandra and a walk to Leavitt Jr. in the third, FIT starter Preston Schumacher was lifted for Justin Lorenz. A sac fly by Chase Achuff got the Tritons on the board, making it 10-1.  The Panthers answered with two more in the fourth on Bernard’s two-run knock.

Buser led off the fifth with a solo home run and the Panthers were up 13-1. An RBI double by Parris in the sixth made it 14-1. Eckerd would get a run in the bottom of the inning, making it a 13-run deficit. Florida Tech would get two more in the seventh on back-to-back RBI singles by Vincenzo Catanza and Gronberg.

Eckerd (11-6, 3-3 SSC) had some fight left, scoring three in the bottom of the eighth, highlighted by a two-run single by Jake Romine. That made it 16-7, but that was as close as the Tritons would get.

Lorenz (1-1) would get the win for the Panthers, going 3.2 innings in relief of Schumacher. He allowed two runs on three hits, walking one and striking out three.

Offensively, Bernard finished game two 3-for-6 with three RBIs. Catanza was 4-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Gronberg, Parrish, Maris, and Pedro Rivera all had two hits each.

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

The Panthers will travel to Winter Park on Monday for a neutral site game against Malone University. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.