Featured Photo: Boris Villa – Credit: Florida Tech Athletics
After having their game at Florida Southern canceled on Thursday, the Florida Tech Panthers would try again Saturday, this time at Andy Seminick-Les Hall Field. The two teams were scheduled to play a doubleheader, but as of press time, game two is in a rain delay. Game one was played and the Panthers rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the ninth to make it 8-6 before Florida Southern got the final out with the bases loaded.
Boris Villa, who has been a starter for Florida Tech deserves a tip of the cap in this one, as he pitched six innings in relief, allowing one run on two hits. He struck out seven and walked three, throwing 93 pitches.
It wasn’t a great day on the mound for Panthers game one starter Mitchell Harding, as Florida Southern got him out after three innings of work. They wasted no time getting on the board in the top of the first as Vaun Brown was hit by a pitch and stole 2nd. He came home when Grady Maguire got a base hit, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.
After Mocs starter Jarrod Cande struck out the first Florida Tech hitter, Jakob Newton took the first pitch he saw over the wall in left, tying the game.
A walk, a wild pitch, and an error set up Brown in the top of the second and he came through with an RBI single and a 2-1 FSC lead.
An error by the Panthers with one out in the third allowed Nick Wells to reach and opened the floodgates for the Moccasins. Connor Berry’s RBI triple made it 3-1. He would score on Cody Duke’s RBI single to extend to a 4-1 lead and one out later after Duke moved to second on a wild pitch, Dylan Costa tripled him home to make it 5-1. Costa would later score on a wild pitch and Brown would homer to give his squad a 7-1 lead.
Harding (1-3) would be done after three innings. He allowed seven runs (three earned) on eight hits, walking one and striking out one, throwing 50 of his 88 pitches for strikes. Villa would come on in relief for Harding to start the fourth inning and all he did was strike out the side.
Florida Tech started chipping away in the bottom of the fifth. After Sam Schner walked to lead off the inning, Rodnie Bernard extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-out single. Paul Castillo would bring Schner home with a single, cutting the deficit to 7-2.
Vaun Brown would hit his second home run of the day in the sixth inning. It was the only blemish in a stretch that saw Villa retire 11 of 12 batters he faced, before giving up a hit and a walk in the seventh.
Cande (3-0) would give way to J.J. Niekro in the seventh inning and Niekro would allow an RBI single to Castillo in the inning, making it an 8-3 game. Niekro would get through the eighth before Mike Pelaez took over in the ninth.
The Panthers would make a game of it against Pelaez as Raul Quintero started things with a double down the line in left. He would get to third on a Newton single and Bernard’s base hit brought him home with the Panthers fourth run.
After a strikeout gave Florida Southern two outs in the inning, Brett Parrish singled to load the bases. Diego Garcia robbed on a great play by Costa at second but he did get to first on a fielder’s choice allowing Newton to come across and make it 8-5.
After Alec Eldridge walked to load the bases again, Florida Southern went to the bullpen for Pablo Toranzo who proceeded to uncork a wild pitch, allowing Bernard to score and pull the Panthers to within two, 8-6. That was as close as they would get, as Toranzo K’d Blaise Maris to end the game.
Newton (2-for-5), Bernard (2-for-5), and Castillo (2-for-4) combined for six of the Panthers’ 11 hits in game one. Brown was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs to lead the Mocs. He also had a stolen base.
For more info: Florida Southern @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 1)
Game two saw the Mocs jump out to another lead against Panthers starter Justin Lorenz with Brown scoring on Berry’s RBI single in the top of the first.
After Bernard walked with two outs in the second he was moved to second on a wild pitch. That wild pitch was key as Dylan Owens drove him in with an RBI single, tying the game 1-1.
Tilden Agee led off the second inning for the Mocs and hit a home run in what was his first at-bat of the season, giving his squad a 2-1 lead. The bottom of the second started with a Garcia single and then the weather took a turn, with the teams being pulled off the field due to lightning.
After a 94-minute delay, the Panthers rallied against new pitcher Jeff Liquori. Garcia stole second and went to third on a wild pitch walk to Eldridge. After Sam Schner walled to load the bases, Quintero’s sac fly scored Garcia to tie the game 2-2.
Florida Tech reliever Andres Rodriguez came in to start the third and after a double and walk, Wells came to the plate and sent a ball over the centerfield wall, giving the Mocs a 5-2 lead.
The Panthers (7-9) got one run back in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Garcia that plated Owens to make it 5-3.
Daniel Vassallo gave up a run in the fourth on a wild pitch to extend the Florida Southern lead to 6-3, but he deserves some praise because he got the final out of the inning on a strikeout then proceeded to strike out the side in the fifth inning and added one more to start the fifth, giving him five straight K’s.
Florida Tech had their chances in the remaining innings but came up empty. Bernard’s hitting streak ended at 10 games with an 0-for-2. Garcia had two of the Panthers’ five hits in game two.
For more info: Florida Southern @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 2)
The Panthers are looking at adding a game to the schedule on Wednesday, but that has not been made official. If they don’t, they will next play Friday, April 16 against Saint Leo at home.