It was a little more difficult than expected, but the University of Tampa of baseball team (29-6, 7-2) completed a three game sweep against Eckerd College this weekend to move into first place in the Sunshine State Conference.
Eckerd (13-16, 3-9) got off to a fast start in Friday night’s game, scoring three runs in the first inning against starter Ross Jackson. The Tritons then traded runs with the Spartans as the game was tied at seven going into the eighth inning.
The Spartans took control of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning scoring four runs to take an 11-7 lead. Paul Cruz drove in the game-winning RBI with a suicide squeeze that scored Craig Corrado. Tampa added three more runs in the frame after an RBI double from Chris Rosenbaum and RBI single from Charlie Raley and an Eckerd error which allowed Raley to score.
Rosenbaum had an incredible night at the plate, finishing 4-5 with four doubles and two RBI. The four doubles was a UT record.
Troy Ferguson finished the game 3-5 with two RBI, and Cruz added two hits and scored two runs in the win.
Closer Jonathan Holt picked up his first win of the year. Holt threw a perfect two innings in relief.
Tampa proved just how explosive their offense is in the first game of the double header on Friday.
After getting no-hit for the first four innings and struggling defensively, Tampa fell behind 6-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth. UT then scored seven runs on seven hits in the inning to take the lead.
With the score 6-3 in favor of Eckerd, Roberto Mena stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. He worked the count in his favor and then connected on a high fastball that sailed well over the fence in left field to give Tampa their first lead of the game.
“You have to forget about what you do in the field when you are on offense,” Mena said. Defense is one thing and offense is another, and I just tried to concentrate when I was at the plate. Hitting the grand slam really motivated the team.”
Tampa scored six more runs in the seventh inning to pull away. UT went on to win by a final of 13-9..
Cruz and Corrado both finished with three hits and two RBI in the game.
In the series finale Tampa used a strong pitching performance from Kevin Ferguson to defeat the Tritons 5-0. Ferguson went six innings and allowed just two hits and no runs.
Jose Jimenez led the offense in the game finishing 1-2 with a home run and three RBI.
Despite having just as many losses as they had all last season, Tampa is in first place in the conference and ranked third in the nation. Mena thinks UT just has to keep playing the way they are if they want to be successful in the playoffs.
“We play in one of the top conferences in the nation. and every team has the ability to win on any given night,” Mena said. “There is no team like the Yankees in the conference. We just have to do the little things and we should continue to be successful.”