The No. 6 UT baseball team successfully swept a three game series against No. 2 ranked Florida Tech Panthers as they traveled to Melbourne, Fla. on April 17 to defeat them on their home field.
Senior pitcher Chase Sparkman lead the team from the mound in the series opener, throwing a complete game shutout and only giving up six hits, three walks and four strikeouts in nine innings.
After a quiet first two innings, the Spartans took control of the game in the third when senior first baseman Andrew Amaro hit a double, then scored the first run of the game after rounding the bases from a single to left field by junior outfielder Casey Scoggins.
After a few more successful at-bats, including one blasted up the middle by senior captain Stephen Dezzi, the Spartans lead the Panthers 5-0 after the third inning. A consecutive amount of runs batted in (RBIs) registered throughout the game allowed the Spartans to tack on three more runs and keep Florida Tech scoreless, winning the game by a final score of 8-0.
“This was a huge matchup for us and being able to go out and sweep the team that was second in conference was huge for us. The team played great baseball from all aspects of the game and I couldn’t be more proud of the attitude and energy the guys played with,” Dezzi said.
Tampa took that same energy into the Saturday doubleheader against the Panthers, winning the first game 9-2 and the second 11-3. The Spartans jumped on the board quickly, scoring two runs in the first inning aided by an RBI from Dezzi and a solo home run from junior third baseman Nick Flair that increased their lead.
Alfonzo and Dezzi also registered solo home runs in the game, creating an aggressive offense that allowed the Panthers to only score two runs. The win was also aided by solid pitching from junior pitchers Michael Calkins and Dylan Barrow.
In game three, junior pitcher Brad Hencke started things off for the Spartans and, like those who pitched before him, was able to lead them to another victory staying undefeated for the year at 5-0.
Senior catcher Nick Tindall aided the Spartans’ offense by hitting three doubles, registering one RBI and counting for two of the Spartans’ runs. The Spartans’ offense then came out strong again in the fourth inning with a double from Tindall who went on to score after Amaro blasted a drive up the middle.
After loading the bases and batting a few singles, the Spartans added five runs to the board in the fourth. After another home run by Flair and RBI single from Jones, the Spartans finished the top of the 9th scoring 11 runs total in the game. Senior pitcher Taylor Brookes pitched two innings in relief, giving up no runs and getting the final outs of Tampa’s 11-3 victory.
With playoffs on the way and the battle for a spot in the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) regional tournament, the three game sweep benefited the Spartans in their chances of being able to crush future opponents.
“This weekend was awesome. We used the momentum from last weekend and played exactly how we left off against Lynn,” Alfonzo said. “I was excited to see the fire and passion behind the team on and off the field. We have things going in our direction now so we just have to stay focused and finish the regular season to put ourselves in a good position for the playoffs.”
The Spartans will continue conference play this upcoming weekend as they host Saint Leo University on their home field Friday, April 24.
Regina Gonzalez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org