By DEVON CONWAY
The Spartans took on the Florida Tech Panthers in a three game match-up in Melbourne, Fl. on March 31 and April 1. In game one, the Spartans fell 14-8 to the Panthers, but bounced back in the doubleheader, winning both games 6-2 and 8-2.
In game one, the Spartans came out strong in the first inning scoring two runs. Senior third baseman/ out fielder J.D. Osborne hit a sacrifice fly to allow senior out fielder Danny Lee to score. Senior second baseman Laz Rivera added to the scoring by driving in senior short-stop Kevin Santa to make the game 2-0. Senior out fielder Vin Cosenzo grounded out to second base, allowed Rivera to score, giving UT a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the first, the Panthers picked up one run making the game 3-1. The Panthers came out strong in the bottom of the second, scoring seven runs to take the lead 8-3.
The Panthers continued to advance their lead in the bottom of the third, making the game 10-3. The Spartans fired back in the top of the fifth, junior utility player Daren Miller scoring two runs to take the score to 10-5 in favor of Florida Tech. At the bottom of the fifth, the Panthers continued to increase their lead 12-5. In the top of the sixth, Lee drove in senior catcher Chris Gaffney. Santa added another run by driving in Rivera, making the game 12-8. At the bottom of the sixth, the Panthers scored another run, making the game 13-8. The Panthers went on to win the game 14-8.
After the loss against the Panthers in the first game, the Spartans needed to bounce back. “We did not play our usual game and were a bit off in game one,” Santa said. “We knew we had to come out strong and show they what UT baseball stands for.”
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Panthers were the first team to strike, scoring two runs in the bottom of the third. Santa started the bottom of the fourth on a hit by a pitch, getting on base. Miller tied the game 2-2 with a massive homerun to left field. Junior out fielder Andrew DiLacqua added to the scoring, bringing in Laz Rivera.
“Miller has been a big part of our team this year. After hitting the homer, he sealed the deal in my book.” said senior pitcher Nick Nolan.
In the top of the seventh, the Spartans brought in two runs, increasing their lead to 5-2. R.Rivera added to the lead, bringing in Cosenzo in the top of the eighth. UT ended the game beating the Panthers 6-2.
In the final game of the doubleheader, Osborne brought in Santa for the first run of the game for the Spartans. Cosenzo added to the scoring, driving in Osborne, giving UT a 2-0 lead. The Panthers came back, scoring one run in the bottom of the first. L.Rivera singled up the middle, allowing Miller to score, making the score 3-1.
At the top of the sixth, the Spartans came out big, scoring three runs making the lead 6-1. At the top of the seventh, the Spartans added another run as Lee singled to left field, scoring junior out fielder Kyle Cotilletta. At the top of the ninth, Cotilletta walked right before Gaffney came up to bat who doubled deep to right center field, scoring Cotilletta giving UT a 8-1 lead. The Spartans went on to win the game 8-2.
In the next three game series, the Spartans are set to take on the Pioneers of Tusculum College in Greenville, Tennessee. This season, under head coach Joe Urso, the Spartans are on a conquest to win their eighth National Championship. “We are taking the games day by day, every game is important to win if we want another National Championship,” Urso said.