MELBOURNE, FL- The Florida Tech Panthers bounced back from the 8-3 loss to conference rivals Saint Leo yesterday by sweeping the visiting Lions in an SSC
doubleheader. The Panthers had to overcome early deficits in each game but managed to stage late-inning comebacks to win the first game 7-5 and the second
game 8-5. With the sweep, Head Coach Paul Knight hits his first collegiate milestone marking his 100th win in the first game of the double header against
The main factor in the games were the teams bullpens; Florida Tech’s bullpen pitched 6.1 innings and held the visitors scoreless while the Lions bullpen
pitched 3.1 innings and allowed nine runs.
Junior Jon Baksh (Mississauga, Canada) supplied the Panthers with the offensive surge to come back in game one. He went a perfect 4-4 at the plate with one
run and two key RBIs.
In game one the visitors jumped to an early lead, scoring four runs in the top of the second. The Lions started the inning with four consecutives hits,
scoring two runs and leaving runners on first and second for junior Jerry Gonzalez (Tampa, FL), who laid down a sacrifice bunt for the first out of the
inning, advancing the runners into scoring position. The next batter, junior Sean VanGuilder (Tallahassee, FL), hit a two-run single to left centerfield,
clearing the bases.
The Panthers began chipping away at the Lions’ lead in the third. With a runner on third and one out, Jon Baksh drove an RBI-single into centerfield,
putting the Panthers on the board.
In the fifth inning, Tech scored another run, narrowing the deficit to two runs. Sophomore Nick Brennan (Detroit, MI) led off the inning with a double down
the left line. He advanced to third on an infield groundball and with two outs Jon Baksh beat out an infield groundball hit to the second baseman to score
Brennan from third.
Florida Tech mounted a two-out rally in the seventh inning, scoring five runs to take their first lead of the game. After the first two Panthers were
retired in order Jon Baksh started the rally with a single through the left side of the infield. The next batter, senior Devin Hopkins (Pembroke Pines, FL)
followed with a single up the middle, advancing Baksh to second. Junior Eamonn Powers (Staten Island, NY) continued the Panther offensive, hitting Tech’s
third consecutive single, scoring Baksh from second. After a walk to sophomore Brendan Twomey (Boca Raton, FL) that loaded the bases, senior Randy Pitts
(Melbourne, FL) smacked a three-run double down the right field line, clearing the bases and giving Tech the lead. The next batter, senior Paul Stone
(Dayton, OH), hit Tech’s fourth single of the inning, driving in Pitts and putting the Panthers on top 7-4.
Saint Leo scored once more in the eighth inning when sophomore Devon Cason (Tampa, FL) hit a solo homerun to left centerfield.
Senior Mike Succio Jr. (Melbourne, FL) picked up his sixth win of the season. He pitched 7.1 innings and allowed nine hits, five runs and four walks while
striking out one. Junior Jody Danca picked up his second save of the year, throwing 1.2 perfect innings while striking out two.
In game two the Panthers looked to take the early lead. With runners on first and second Jon Baksh hit an RBI single to left field, putting runners on
first and second. The next batter hit into a double play, leaving a runner on third with two outs for Randy Pitts. Pitts came through once again for the
Panthers, driving in his fourth run of the day with a single to right field.
The Lions struck back quickly, scoring three runs in the second and two more in the third to take a 5-2 lead. In the second the first to Saint Leo batters
reached base safely and with runners on first and second Devon Cason smacked a two-run double down the right field line. He would later score on an infield
groundout by junior Matt Prowant (Dade City, FL). The visitors scored their two runs in the third on one hit, a walk, and two hit batsman.
The Panthers scored their third run of the game in the fifth inning when freshman Eric Trillas (Hialeah, FL) blasted his first career homerun, a solo shot
to left field.
In the sixth inning the Lions went to their bullpen, and the Panthers quickly pounced on the opportunity. Saint Leo brought in their closer, junior Matt
Smith (Dade City, FL), usually a reliable pitcher, to finish the game. Tech managed to score four runs on four hits, a walk, and a hit by pitch without
Smith getting a single opponent out. Junior Peter Martinez (Tampa, FL), who eventually retired the side, replaced him. The final score at the end of the
game was 8-5 in favor of the Panthers.
Freshman Justin Arsenault (Camillus, NY) picked up the win for the Panthers. He entered the game in the third inning to relieve Panther starter sophomore
Brett Backman (Whitby, Ontario). Arsenault went 4.2 innings and only gave up three hits while striking out two batters.
Randy Pitts managed to go a combined 4-8 on the day with four RBIs and one run. Eric Trillas went 2-4 on the day with three RBIs and one run.
The Panthers improve to 20-11 on the season, 5-4 in the Sunshine State Conference. The Lions fall to 21-11 on the season, and 2-4 in the SSC. The Panthers
hit the road this week, visiting Nova Southeastern in a non-conference game on Tuesday (3/28) and Rollins College next weekend for a three-game conference
series. The Panthers next home game is on April 4th against Flagler College.