The baseball team has been on the road the past few weekends as they took on Sunshine State Conference (SSC) rivals Florida Southern College (FSC) and Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA).
In both battles, they fell to their opponents in the first game, then came in to sweep the rest of the weekend and take home the series.
On March 13, the Spartans traveled to Lakeland, Fla. and were defeated by the FSC Mocs in the series opener. The Mocs came in strong in the bottom of the second inning with a home run from their junior outfielder Jhalan Jackson, and brought in two more runs in the fourth inning to jump on the board with 3-0 lead.
UT retaliated in the fifth inning with a home run by junior third baseman Nick Flair and again in the seventh with an RBI single by senior outfielder Ian Townsend that brought in junior centerfielder Casey Scoggins to get on the board with FSC in the lead at 3-2.
Florida Southern answered in both the seventh and eighth, bringing in four runs for each inning. The Spartans fought back to make it 7-5 before the Mocs scored eight to end the game with an 11-5 loss for the Spartans.
The next day, the Spartans returned on Saturday to defeat the Mocs in two back-to-back games and take home the series.
“We saw a big jump from our guys on Saturday,” said Head Coach Joe Urso. “That next day we came on and from the first inning it was non-stop, these guys were focused and played as good as I’ve seen them and I’m hoping they can play with that focus every single day on.”
The Spartans jumped on the board quick scoring two runs in the top of the first and seven more runs in the second to force a defining lead of 9-0. Florida Southern was able score three runs in the bottom of the third and two in the bottom of the seventh, but by then it was too late for the Mocs as UT brought in four more runs in the top of the seventh inning and one in both the eighth and the ninth for a 15-5 victory.
A home run once again by Flair, as well as home runs from junior second baseman Cody deNoyelles and senior captain Stephen Dezzi contributed to the win.
The Spartans’ aggressive offense continued into the final game of the series as the Spartans took home another 11-5 victory and a series win. The men registered 34 hits that day and walked seven times. “We never had a dull moment offensively the second day, we had two or three really big innings in each game and the led us to win the series,” said senior second baseman Andrew Amaro.
The series earned Flair SSC Player of the Week honors. During the 11-5 win in the final game of the series, Flair went 3-for-5 with six RBIs, three runs scored, and two home runs. “It feels good,” Flair said. “I was more or less just trying to take care of business. It’s not a goal to get that title every week, we’re supposed to sweep teams and that’s my goal.”
The men then traveled to play Palm Beach Atlantic University and were defeated in the opening game. The Spartans were able to hold the Sailfish scoreless until the fifth inning when PBA came in strong offensively and scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Spartans were able to jump on the board with two runs in the top of the sixth inning. The Sailfish added another run in the bottom of the seventh to take on 5-2 win against the Spartans.
The Spartans then came in the next day to sweep a doubleheader against Palm Beach Atlantic, picking up a quick 3-1 win in game one before battling the Sailfish in a 13-inning game in which Tampa pulled out with a 14-13 victory.
Between the two games, the Spartans had 23 hits, eight walks and eight extra-base hits.The Spartans were led by Amaro and Scoggins defensively as they recorded 11 and eight putouts. Amaro was a leader in the infield while Scoggins used his speed in the outfield to make numerous plays that kept the Sailfish from bringing in more runs.
Both series brought the top ranked Spartans to a 4-2 SSC standing, and the men remain confident in the future of their season and will continue to work hard against top opponents:
“We need to win all of the games that we should win,” Amaro said. “Our goal is to be the host of the regionals so that we have a better chance to make it to the World Series and anything can happen when you get there.”
Regina Gonzalez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org