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Eldridge Caps Panthers Comeback in Walk-Off Fashion

Header pic: Alec Eldridge – Credit: Florida Tech Athletics

The final series of the season got off on the right foot Friday night as the Florida Tech Panthers scored twice in the bottom of the ninth, capping a 3-2 win over Palm Beach Atlantic on Friday night at Andy Seminick-Les Hall Field.

With the victory, Florida Tech picked up their 30th win of the season, and 13th Sunshine State Conference victory.

Alec Eldridge, who had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth after the first two batters were retired, finished the night 3-for-5. Dylan Dohanos and Dylan Owens each went 2-for-5.

Panthers starter Joey Hecht allowed singles to Sean Houch and Nate Housen in the top of the second before a sacrifice bunt by Matt Warren moved runners to second and third. That brought Jiovel Lantigua to the plate and he ripped a two-run double down the line in right, giving the visitors a 2-0 lead.

The Panthers (30-18, 13-15 SSC) would have their chances, but they left eight runners on base through the first four innings, before finally breaking through in the bottom of the sixth. Eldridge singled before Paul Castillo hit into a fielder’s choice. Castillo would move to second on a Jack Nagy single, ending the night for PBA starter Justin Lovell, who threw 97 pitches.

Reliever Ruairi Murphy got an out before Dohanos singled home Castillo to cut the Sailfish lead to 2-1.

Hecht would get through the seventh, retiring the last seven batters he faced. Danny Vassallo came on in the eighth after Hecht allowed two earned runs, walked one and struck out three in his seven innings. He threw 86 pitches, 58 strikes.

Vassallo would retire PBA in order in the eighth and ninth innings, giving the Panthers a chance. They made sure they made good on it. With two outs, Jakob Newton and Brett Parrish drew back-to-back walks. Owens then singled home Newton to tie the game 2-2. Eldridge would then bang a single into left, allowing Parrish to slide in with the winning run.

For more info: PBA @ Florida Tech Box Score

Vassallo got the win, improving to 7-2 on the season. He pitched the final two innings, facing seven batters. He walked one and struck out one, throwing 29 pitches (15 strikes).

The Panthers season wraps up Sunday with a doubleheader starting at 1:00 p.m. The Senior Day ceremony is scheduled to start at 11:45 a.m.