Header pic: Danny Vassallo – Credit: Florida Tech Athletics
The Embry-Riddle Eagles (19-19, 7-13 SSC) held on to beat Florida Tech in game two of their Sunshine State Conference baseball series on Friday, defeating the Panthers 7-6.
ERAU jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first four innings before Tech scored five unanswered runs before closer Joe Balsam came in with runners at the corners in the top of the eighth and got three outs. In the ninth, he kept the Panthers off the board to earn his ninth save.
The Panthers (28-15, 11-12 SSC) had 10 hits, led by Paul Castillo’s 4-for-5 night with one RBI. Jack Nagy was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Sam Schner was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Boris Villa (2-2) started for Florida Tech and had a rough night at the office. ERAU sent 10 men to the plate in the bottom of the second. Villa walked two, and another – loading the bases. Garrett Bogart singled in a run. A bases-loaded walk was followed by another hit batter and just like that, it was 3-0. Jeremy Kennedy-Davis knocked in two more with a single and it was 5-0.
Villa walked the first batter he faced in the bottom of the third and his night was done. He pitched two-plus innings, before giving way to Danny Vassallo. A double scored the Eagles’ sixth run, charged to Villa. He allowed six runs on two hits, walked four, struck out one, and hit two batters.
ERAU loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth on a single, an error, and a walk. Vassallo then hit a batter, forcing in another run and it was 7-1. The run was unearned.
The Panthers’ comeback started in the fifth against Eagles starter Garrett Goodall when Dylan Dohanos singled and later scored on a double-play ball.
A double by Diego Garcia was followed by a Sam Schner single, putting runners at the corners. After Schner stole second, Dohanos grounded out to score Garcia. Castillo’s RBI single chased Schner home and it was 7-4. The potential of a bigger inning came to a screeching halt when the Eagles turned a 6-3-5 inning-ending double play.
Goodall was done after seven innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits. He threw 96 pitches before Garner Spoljaric took over to start the eighth. He hit Brett Parrish and walked Dylan Owens. after a wild pitch moved runners to second and third, Alec Eldridge reached on an error allowing Parrish to score, closing the gap to 7-5.
Balsam came in and Jack Nagy grounded out, scoring Owens to make it a 7-6 game. That was as close as they would get as Balsam got out of that inning and allowed a single in the ninth before closing it out.
For more info: Florida Tech @ ERAU Box Score
Vassallo deserves a lot of credit for navigating through six innings to even give the Panthers a chance at the comeback. He allowed one unearned run on three hits, walking one and striking out three. He threw 84 pitches, 26 for strikes.
The series wraps up tomorrow in Daytona with a 2:00 p.m. game.