The Eckerd College baseball team (5-7 overall, 0-3 in SSC play) started off SSC play on a rough note, getting swept in a three game series by Florida Tech (11-3, 5-1) Feb. 22-23.
The first game, which took place at the Turley Athletic Conference on Friday night, started out as a pitchers’ duel. Starting pitchers Jason Boyer of the Panthers and Andrew Pierson of the Tritons matched zeros through the first three frames.
The scoring finally got started in the fourth inning, when center fielder David Johannessen led off the inning with a home run, giving Florida Tech a 1-0 lead. The Panthers would add two more runs that inning, and picked up a run in both the fifth and sixth innings, opening up a commanding 5-0 lead.
Eckerd fought back, picking up two runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth inning on a two-run double by left fielder Mike Vavasis.
The score would stay 5-2 until the eighth inning, when Florida Tech broke things open by scoring four runs against the Eckerd bullpen. After Eckerd went quietly in their half of the eighth, the Panthers scored twice more in the top of the ninth to extend their lead to 11-2.
The Tritons tried to make things interesting with a ninth inning rally. A hit by pitch and two walks loaded the bases with one out, which led to a two-run pinch-hit double by A.J. Witkowski.
Eckerd added one more run on an RBI ground out by right fielder Tyler Abadal, but their rally fell well short and Florida Tech won the first game by a final score of 11-5.
The first game of the doubleheader on Saturday once again started out looking like a pitchers’ duel, as this time Cody Lewis and Kevin Plant, the starting pitchers for Florida Tech and Eckerd respectively, held their opponents scoreless through the first three innings.
However, from the fourth inning on, the Panthers’ bats heated up while the Tritons stayed cold at the plate. Florida Tech scored at least one run in each of the last six innings, while Lewis and three relievers combined to throw a six-hit shutout, as the Panthers cruised to an 8-0 win.
In the final game of the series, Eckerd’s offense finally showed up, as they scored four runs in the first inning to give Eckerd their first lead in the series. Third baseman Lee Spinelle, Abadal and center fielder Jake O’Rourke all picked up RBI hits in the inning.
Triton starting pitcher Jordan Huchro looked like he was going to make the 4-0 lead hold up, as he limited the Panthers to just two singles through the first three innings. However, Florida Tech struck for three runs in the fourth inning, including a two-run homer by first baseman Scott Carcaise.
Eckerd was able to get two of those runs back in the bottom of the fourth on consecutive RBI hits by shortstop Rowdy Andrews and outfielder Lincoln Dunham. Florida Tech then scored two runs in the sixth inning, with help from three Eckerd errors, and Eckerd took a 6-5 lead into the seventh and final inning.
The Panthers had two on with two outs when catcher Austin Allen hit a three-run homer, giving them an 8-6 lead. This ended up being the final score, as Eckerd was unable to score in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Eckerd will try to get back on track Feb. 26, when they host Florida Memorial University in a non-conference matchup. Eckerd resumes SSC play with a three-game series at Florida Southern College March 8-9.