Spartans Sweep Palm Beach Atlantic in Weekend Series

(UPDATED 9:24 p.m. on Feb. 9, 2008) In the first game of Saturday’s double header, the University of Tampa Spartans used an eight run third inning to easily defeat the Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish 16-4.

The Spartans (5-0) got off to a hot start with starter John Wiedenbauer, who struck out the side in the first inning. The Spartan hitters responded by staking their pitcher to a 1-0 lead with an RBI double by Jose Jimenez. Jimenez was gunned down at the plate after Stephen Merino doubled to left, ending the scoring threat.

Three runs then came across in the second inning after leadoff batter Ryan William singled and then stole second and third on consecutive pitches. He later scored on a Garrett Maines double. Paul Cruz brought Maines around with a line drive home run down the left field line to give the Spartans a 4-0 lead.

The Sailfish (1-6) cut the lead in half in the third inning when Mariano Jimenez smacked a two-run single.

The bottom of the third saw Sailfish starter Issac Hicks self-destruct. He hit the first two batters of the inning and walked the next two, which led to a run. Third basemen Joaquin Valdez then committed an error that allowed two more Spartans to cross the plate. Jared Simon hit an RBI single to right field, Cruz then came up and was hit, and Casey Albanese followed with an RBI groundout to third. Hot-hitting Nolan Brannon then came up and was hit for the second time in the inning putting two men on for Jimenez who was walked. The base on balls scored a run to make the score 10-2. Stephen Merino then hit a two run single which plated Cruz and Brannon to extend Tampa’s lead to 12-2. All told in the third inning, the Spartans sent 13 batters to the plate and scored eight runs on only two hits.

The offensive fireworks continued in the fourth with the Spartans adding three more runs with RBI singles by Simon, Cruz and Brannon making the score 15-2.

Wiedenbauer gave back two runs in the fifth, with a two-run single by Billy Falconio. The freshman gave up four runs on eight hits over five innings.

Albanese capped the offensive show in the eighth inning with a long solo home run to left field pushing the lead to 12.

In the second game of the double header the Spartans used a four run second inning to hold on to defeat the Sailfish 4-3.

The Spartans (7-0) fell behind in the second when starter Scott Chapman gave up an RBI single to Sailfish (1-7) left fielder Jesse Gibbs.

Junior Mejia answered for the Spartans with a two-run double that plated Leo Alvarez and Steven Broschofsky, who singled and walked, respectively. Casey Albanese scored on a wild pitch and Mejia came around to score on a fielder’s choice putting the Spartans up 4-1.

Palm Beach’s Tony Livelsberger cut into the lead with a two-run homer to right field making the score 4-3.

In the fifth inning, Albanese made a stellar diving catch in short right-center field to preserve the one run lead.

The Spartans had a chance to put some insurance runs on the board in the bottom of the inning after Jesus Barroso’s bunt got him to third base on a throwing error by pitcher Zach Grau. Brannon lined out to a drawn in second basemen, and after a Jimenez intentional walk, Maines hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Anthony Perez came in and pitched dominating sixth and seventh innings to pick up his third save of the young season and preserve the victory for the Spartans. The Spartans hit the road for the next two weeks and return home Feb. 26 to take on the Tars of Rollins College

———————————- Friday’s Game Recap ———————————- The Spartans used a great pitching performance from Kevin Ferguson and the continued hot hitting of Nolan Brannon to defeat the Sailfish 11-3.

Ferguson, the reigning Sunshine State Conference pitcher of the year, threw seven innings yielding two runs on five hits while striking out three and walking none. He retired the last 15 batters he faced.

“After giving up some early runs, coach pulled me aside and told me to get back in my game,” said Ferguson. “He told me not to let them sit on my fastball.”

“He’s our Friday night pitcher for a reason,” said Brannon. “It’s a relief off the hitters shoulders to know he’s going to go out there and put up zeros.”

Brannon started the offensive onslaught for the Spartans (4-0) with an RBI double that plated Paul Cruz who led off the game with a triple. Jose Jimenez returned the favor by doubling home Brannon to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead.

“I’m feeling good at the plate,” said Brannon. “His slider was moving and we wanted to get ahead so he couldn’t use it to put us away.

Brannon is batting a torrid .643 in this young season.

The Sailfish (1-5) chopped the Spartan lead in half in the second inning when Tony Livelsberger smashed a solo home-run to right-center field. They then tied it up in the third after Zach Grau singled home Scott Urbanek who was on second after doubling. The Spartans then took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning after Jimenez blasted a monster home run to right-center field, his first of the season.

In the fourth inning, the Spartans put up a five-spot, with RBI singles by Leo Alvarez and Brannon and a two run double by Jesus Barroso.

Brannon then put the Spartans up 8-2 with a laser beam home run that just cleared the fence in right field, his second.

“It’s a load off our backs to know we’re going to get support like this night in and night out,” said Ferguson.

In the seventh inning, the Spartans capitalized on sloppy pitching by Sailfish reliever Peter Rodriguez who walked two and hit two leading to a run, Cruz then grounded out to second to score another run pushing the lead to eight.

In the eighth inning, Josh Sessions, in his first collegiate at bat, hit a sac fly to score another freshman, Michael Fernandez.

The Sailfish tacked on another run in the top of the ninth.

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