The eighth-ranked baseball team bounced back from last weekend’s stressful loss to the top-ranked Nova Southeastern Sharks. The Spartans defeated Southeastern University Fire in a weekday game on April 7 and the Lynn University Fighting Knights in a three game weekend series on April 10.
Tampa endured a game-long battle on their home field as the Southeastern Fire retaliated each time the Spartans took the lead. A number of helpful at-bats in the ninth inning allowed the Spartans to take the win. The Spartans started off strong in the first inning when junior third baseman Nick Flair hit a two-run homer that brought in senior captain Giovanny Alfonzo after his single. Southeastern responded quickly, scoring three runs in the second to take the lead over Tampa, and added one in the third to extend its lead to 4-2.
The Spartans tied the game in the fourth to make it 4-4, as junior second baseman Cody DeNoyelles blasted a leadoff home run and freshman designated hitter Michael Kleinmen drove in junior catcher Nick Tindall with a RBI single.
A constant battle for the lead ended with Tampa’s final at-bats when junior outfielder Casey Scoggins was hit by a pitch to lead off, followed by a sacrifice bunt from Alfonzo. Scoggins would steal third and tie the game on a single by Flair. Following a walk by senior captain Stephen Dezzi, senior outfielder Chris Pagliarulo walked to load the bases with one out. DeNoyelles then hit the game-winner on a dropped fly by Southeastern’s right fielder.
“Tuesday’s game was a good start to the week, “Alfonzo said, “It showed us that even in the last inning we are capable of coming back and winning a game.”
With another win under their belts, the Spartans then faced game one against a series against the Lynn University Fighting Knights where they lost 5-3 to the No. 10 ranked team. After three scoreless innings, the Knights jumped on the board with two runs on four hits to take a 2-0 lead. Lynn also added on three more runs in the top of the eighth. Trailing with a score of 5-0, the Spartans got things going in the bottom of the eighth inning to score three runs. Despite an attempt to catch up in the bottom of the ninth, it was the Lynn Fighting Knights who took home the 5-3 victory.
Senior lefty Chase Sparkman was the starting pitcher for the Spartans in the loss, tossing seven complete innings in which he allowed two runs on nine hits, striking out five. The loss brought Sparkman’s record to 7-2 for the year.
“Sparkman did a great job of getting us seven quality innings Friday,“ said senior first baseman Andrew Amaro. “Even though we lost it allowed us to save pitching for the next two games.”
The Spartans came back ready the next day for a doubleheader that would end the series, taking the first game with a 10-inning 8-7 walk off in game one and rallying for an 11-7 defeat for game two.
Junior lefty pitcher Michael Calkins started from the mound for the first time this season in game two, tossing 4.2 innings and allowing just one run on three hits. Tampa jumped on the scoreboard first in the third inning with a run thanks to senior outfielder Brett Jones, whose sacrifice fly out allowed DeNoyelles to score. Lynn responded with one run in the top of the fourth inning, but the Spartans took back a one-run lead in the bottom of the fifth with another sacrifice fly out from Jones.
The Fighting Knights again picked up one run in the top of the seventh and eighth innings, but RBIs from Flair, Alfonzo, freshman designated hitter Paxton Sims and Jones put the Spartans ahead 6-3. Heading into the ninth trailing by three runs, Lynn scored four runs on four hits to take their first lead of the game, 7-6. Tampa quickly retaliated to defend their lead, scoring a run in the bottom of the inning off one run and a Lynn error, tying the game.
Going into extra innings and holding Lynn scoreless in the top of the tenth, Tindall stepped up to the plate and blasted a walk-off home run over the left-centerfield fence that earned Tampa the win. In the second game of the day, however, Lynn came out ready, forcing one-run rallies in the first and second innings to take a 2-0 lead. The Fighting Knights picked up another two runs in the third as well, going ahead 4-0.
Jones picked up another RBI in the bottom of the third for Tampa, bringing the score to 4-1. After both teams scored in the fourth, the fifth inning was quiet for Lynn offensively, allowing the Spartans to jump start their offense to result in three runs on two hits and a walk. Both Tindall and Dezzi had home runs in the inning, tying the game at 5-5.
Lynn scored another run in the top of the sixth, regaining the lead, but the Spartans took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the inning on a solo home run from Alfonzo and a sacrifice flyout from Amaro. With a constant rally for runs going on for two innings, The Spartans put six runs on the board to take a game clinching 11-6 lead against Lynn. The Fighting Knights picked up a run in the top of the ninth to bring the score to 11-7, but it was the Spartans who took home the win.
The sweeping of the series was a good thing for the team’s future goal to make regionals, and the team will continue to work hard this week and prepare to hit the road for a three game weekend series against Florida Tech in Melbourne.
“This was a huge step in the right direction. The wins we had weren’t pretty but they were well earned. I’m proud of these guys for bouncing back from a tough weekend,” Dezzi said.”We still need to get better defensively and execute pitches. We’re going to be preparing all week to do that.”
Regina Gonzalez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org