MELBOURNE, FLA. (Baseball)— The Florida Tech Panthers finished up the first series of the 2014 season Sunday when they hosted North Alabama for two seven inning games. The Panthers took the first game 2-0, and came back in the second to win 5-3, and earned the series sweep over the Lions.
“Today we did a good job,” said head coach Greg Berkemeier. “It is not easy coming back early in the morning after a late night. We did a good job of competing throughout the entire weekend, and was able to get some timely hitting from a number of different guys. We just have to cleanup a couple of things and continue to get better on a daily basis.”
The Panthers plated the first run of game one in the bottom of the first inning. With the bases loaded, junior Kevin Wortman was walked, which brought home sophomore Austin Allen and gave the Panthers the 1-0 lead. The Panthers added another run to their lead in the second inning. Freshman Trent Masih led off the second with a base hit to left field. Masih later scored when senior Andrew Bartlett sent a double into left field.
The Lions had two runners on in the sixth inning trailing by two, but the Panthers were able to force a double play and get out of the inning. Another double play in the seventh inning closed out the game, and gave the Panthers the 2-0 win.
Junior Scotty Ward (1-0) pitched five shutout innings, and picked up the win for the Panthers. Freshman Brett Porter pitched the seventh inning, and earned his first save of the season.
Riley Sanderson (0-1) suffered the loss for the Lions.
Game two started differently than game one as the Lions were first on the board. Kyle Conkle brought home Jake Ward with a base hit up the middle for the first run of the game.
Trailing by one, the Panthers took the lead behind two runs in the bottom of the third. Senior Jimmie Koch singled right field, which brought home Allen. Koch was caught in a run-down during the next at-bat, but before he was tagged out, freshman Grant McKown stole home to give the Panthers the 2-1 lead.
The Lions (0-3) came back in the fifth inning and regained the lead. Dylan Boston brought home two runs with single up the middle. The runs put the Lions on top 3-2 after five innings of play.
The Panthers (3-0) came up with an answer in the sixth inning and plated three runs. Wortman doubled to left center which brought home both Allen and McKown. Freshman Andrew Calderone then singled to right-center which brought home Wortman. The runs put the Panthers up for good 5-3.
Freshman Will Simpson (1-0) pitched one inning in relief of starter freshman Grant Willcoxon and picked up the win. Junior Chase Wissman came on in the seventh and earned the save, his first of the season.
Brantley Claunch (0-1) pitched five innings for the Lions and took the loss.
The Panthers will make a quick return to Seminick-Hall Field when they host Florida Southern in a non-conference game on Tuesday Feb. 4 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Live stats and audio will be available at FloridaTechSports.com/live.
“We are playing a lot games in a short period of time so you are trying to give kids opportunities and see what they can do,” Berkemeier said. “This is the toughest conference in the country, so we have to get better on a daily basis and that is how, by sending players out there and seeing what they can do.”