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Panthers Cap Sweep with Another Walk-Off Win

Following Thursday’s walk-off win against Tiffin in game two, the Panthers found themselves down again on Friday against Wilmington and pulled victory from the jaws of defeat again when Ashley Campbell hit a ball off the glove of the Wildcats pitcher driving in the winning run and giving the Panthers an improbable 5-4 win.

The Wildcats were a scrappy team despite their winless record, but the Panthers found a way to win as they have so many times already this season.

This doubleheader followed much the same path that Thursday’s sweep of Tiffin did, with the Panthers getting a convincing win in game one and having to come back with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, to win the game.

Friday’s first game featured a seven-run third inning for the second time in two days. The Panthers used that to propel them to a 10-3 win.

Florida Tech had nine hits in the game, as Cheyenne Nelson, Victoria Szrom and Jaden Kline all had 2-for-3 days, each with a run scored. Mikayla Wessel was 1-for-4, scoring twice. Ally Carver was also 1-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs.

Jordan Lawlis (5-2) got the start in game one and got her third consecutive win. She was the winning pitcher in both games against Tiffin on Thursday and backed that up with another solid performance on Friday.  She pitched four innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits while walking one and striking out one, throwing 35 of her 64 pitches for strikes.

Tina Velazquez Rolon pitched the final three innings in game one, earning her second save. She would allow four hits and strike out five and did not walk a batter. She threw 41 pitches, 31 for strikes.

Florida Tech struck first in the bottom of the first. Wessel singled and stole second. After a walk to Velazquez Rolon, both runners moved up on a passed ball. Wessel would score on an RBI single by Kline, and Velazquez would score on a sac fly by Campbell, giving the Panthers a 2-0 lead.

A wild pitch led to the Panthers run in the bottom of the second. Rachel Kraak who led the inning off with a walk scored on a wild pitch, making it 3-0. Wilmington came back in the top of the third with a Kiana Broderson Jones RBI single, and a two-run single by Sara Miller. That tied the game, 3-3.

The third inning was the difference-maker in this one, as the Panthers sent 10 batters to the plate. Carver hit the Panthers first triple of the season, knocking in Szrom and Kline and giving the Panthers a 5-3 lead. Kraak hit a fielder’s choice and Carver raced home just ahead of the tag, making it 6-3. An RBI single by Maiello followed, and Nelson knocked her in with the second triple of the inning, scoring Maiello with the eighth run. An RBI groundout by Velazquez and an RBI single by Szrom made it 10-3 Panthers.

The rest of game one was fairly quiet on both sides, and the Panthers scored the victory, moving them to 12-10 on the season.

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

Game two saw Velazquez Rolon get the start in the circle for the Panthers. Her defense let her down big time in the first inning, committing four errors and helping the Wildcats score three runs with the benefit of only one hit. Florida Tech avoided more trouble turning a double play to end the inning.

The Wildcats (0-10) added a run in the third inning on a passed ball, going up 4-0. Florida Tech answered in the bottom of the inning when Nelson doubled and came home on a single from Wessel.

Florida Tech (13-10) looked poised to add a run in the fifth when Nelson started a two-out rally with a single. Wessel followed with a double, but the Wildcats were able to nail Nelson at the plate, as she tried to score. The play at the plate ended the inning.

Velazquez started the Panthers comeback in the bottom of the sixth, leading off the inning with a solo blast to center, cutting the Wildcats lead to 4-2. Szrom followed with a walk and pinch-runner Peyton Anders got to second on a single by Campbell. A walk to Carver loaded the bases, and one out later Maiello drew a bases-loaded walk, and the Panthers were within a run.

As Anders crossed the plate with that run, the Wildcats defense made a heads-up play, throwing the ball to third and picking the runner off to end the inning. It is not a play you see often, but what could have been a big inning, was short-circuited with only two runs coming across and the Panthers still down 4-3.

Velazquez did her part in the top of the seventh, working out of a bases-loaded jam and giving the Panthers the opportunity to come back in the bottom of the seventh. Nelson and Wessel continued their big game with back-to-back singles. Wilmington got the next two outs, bringing Kline to the plate. She was able to fight a ball off, sending it down the right-field line and scoring Nelson with the tying run.

Campbell was next up, and she bounced one back to the mound that went off Wilmington pitcher Hayley Downin and was redirected to shortstop, giving Szrom enough time to cross the plate and give the Panthers a 5-4 walk-off win.

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

Nelson and Wessel both had 3-for-4 nights in game two, with Velazquez Rolon and Campbell going 2-for-4.

Velazquez (8-4) overcame that tough first inning, going the distance in the circle. She allowed four runs on four hits, with only one of those runs being earned. She walked four and struck out six, throwing 102 pitches, 69 for strikes. That followed her 41 pitch save in game one.

The Panthers will bring a four-game winning streak into tomorrow’s doubleheader against Georgian Court University. Game one is set to get underway at 1:00 p.m.