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Panthers Sweep Wilmington in Doubleheader

Melanie Murphy (#8) and Tina Velazquez background combined to sweep the Wilmington Wildcats on Tuesday. Cindy Rieber

Tina Velazquez pitched nine innings in game one and homered in game two, helping the Florida Tech Panthers to a sweep of the visiting Wilmington Wildcats on Tuesday, 4-3 (nine innings) and 8-0 (five innings) at Nancy Bottge Field.

Melanie Murphy got the five-inning complete-game in game two, allowing two hits and striking out five.  She threw 45 pitches (32 strikes).

Wilmington came into the doubleheader with one win, coming against the defending Division II champion Southern Indiana. They had losses to #14 Grand Valley State and a very tough Minnesota State Mankato team in very close games. Further proof of just how good this Florida Tech team is this season.

Velazquez (7-0) had a career-high 11 strikeouts in that first game, allowing five hits and two earned runs. She walked only two in the complete-game effort. She threw 114 pitches, 76 for strikes.

Jaden Kline knocked in two runs in game one, including the winning run in the ninth. She was 2-for-4. Xiarysse Emerenciana was also 2-for-4, with an RBI.

Rosa’Lynn Burton was a thorn in the side of the Panthers in game one. She was 3-for-4 at the plate and had two stolen bases. She led off with a single in the first and came home on a sac fly by Lauren Lopez, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Velazquez (7-0) struck out the final batter in the first and struck out the side in the second. She would strike out the side in the second inning. Wilmington would add to the lead in the third and Burton was in the middle of it again. She would beat out a bunt single. After stealing second, she would get to third on a single by Makayla McCarthy. She later scored on a Lauren Lopez fielder’s choice, making it 2-0.

Velazquez would strike out the side again in the fifth and the Panthers offense got going in the bottom of the frame. Ally Carver singled to start the inning and she later traded places with Victoria Szrom on a fielder’s choice. Szrom would later score from first on a double down the left field line by Shanysse Emerenciana.

The Panthers would tie things up in the bottom of the sixth. Velazquez doubled with one out and Rachel Kraak came in to pinch run. She would score the tying run on Kline’s single to left.

Both teams came up empty in the seventh, and extra innings were the order of the day, meaning the International tie-breaker rule was in effect. Kiana Broderson-Jones was the inherited runner for Wilmington and she came home on a double by Alyssa Velasquez, giving the Wildcats a 3-2 lead.

The Panthers would put Shanysse at second to start the eighth and Cheyenne Nelson sacrificed her to third. Xiarysse hit the ball to shortstop and the throw came home, but Shanysse beat it to tie the game at three.

After the Wildcats stranded their inherited runner at third in the top of the ninth, Florida Tech put the game away in the bottom of the inning. Lexi Bettermann came in as the inherited runner and Vanessa Rubio sacrificed her to third. That brought Kline up and she smoked the ball over the right fielder’s head, scoring the winning run.

Caitlyn Whiteside took the loss for Wilmington, throwing 8.1 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on eight hits. She threw 104 pitches.

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

Murphy (7-4) got the start in game two and she allowed just two hits in five innings of work. Murphy held Burton in check in this one, as she went 0-for-2, including going down on strikes to start the game.

Unlike game one, the Panthers offense got going early in this one against McCarthy, who got the start for the Wildcats. Mikayla Wessel started the third with a bunt single and was sacrificed to second by Nelson. Xiarysse then reached on an error, scoring the first run of the game. Velazquez then knocked Emerenciana home with an RBI single, making it 2-0. Wessel doubled with two outs in the fourth inning and an RBI single by Nelson extended the lead to 3-0.

Florida Tech (18-4) would end this one early with a five-run fifth inning. Velazquez hit an absolute bomb to make it 4-0. After Rubio doubled to left and Bettermann was called on to run for her, Carver singled to put runners on the corners and a single by Alexus Smith made it 5-0.

A single by Wessel brought pinch-runner Katrina Hand home with the sixth run and Nelson’s two-run single capped the scoring and completed the sweep.

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

The Panthers will host Lander on Wednesday in another doubleheader. Game 1 will start at 1:00 p.m.