TAMPA, Fla. – The #7 University of Tampa snapped a four-game losing streak defeating Florida Gulf Coast University in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader 9-7, then completing the sweep with a 4-0 victory in game two.
In the opener, Orlando Rosales led off for the Spartans in the first and knocked the first pitch from FGCU starter Billy Phillips (New Port Richey, Fla.) over the center field wall giving UT a 1-0 lead.
Sophomore Kevin Burns (Fort Myers) quickly turned the momentum with a three-run blast in the top of the second providing FGCU with a 3-1 advantage. Tampa got all three runs back in the bottom of the third on a RBI single by Lee Cruz, who finished the contest 4-for-5 at the plate driving in three runs, and a two-run single by Scott Leffler.
The Spartans made it 5-3 when Alex Castellvi drove in a run on a fielder’s choice in the fourth, then added another when Cruz singled in another run in the same inning making the score 6-3. A single by Eagles freshman Shawn Griffin (Hollywood, Fla.) to go with fielding and throwing errors allowed junior Chris Perry (Largo, Fla.) to cross the plate in the fifth cutting the lead to 6-4.
Charlie Raley extended the Spartans lead the 8-4 with a two-run blast in the bottom of the fifth chasing Phillips (5-3), who gave up eight runs, six earned on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings.
A solo shot by senior David Cox (Sarasota, Fla.) cut the margin to 8-5 in the seventh. Following the home run, UT starter Justin Boza (4-1) walked junior Mike Mathews (Venice, Fla.) and gave up a single to freshman Graig Smith (Venice, Fla.), leaving after 5 2/3 with an 8-5 lead. Boza struck out eight and walked two while giving up eight hits in the outing. Craig Benner replaced Boza and got out of the sixth by inducing a pop out to second base by Perry.
The Eagles cut the lead to 8-6 by scoring a run in the seventh on a RBI groundout by Derek Mollica (Boca Raton, Fla.). Tampa regained a three-run lead in the eighth on a RBI single by Cruz. Griffin cut the margin back to two with a solo home run off Aaron Cook in the ninth, but the Spartans held on for the 9-7 victory. Cook earned his tenth save of the year in the victory.
Leffler, Kurt Baxley, and Alex Castellvi each had two hits for the Spartans. Griffin led FGCU with three hits while Burns drove in three runs.
Game two was a pitchers duel early on between UT’s Johnny Williams (4-2) and FGCU’s Chris Hassen (7-2). Williams pitched himself out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the fourth, stranding six runners in that stretch, to keep the game scoreless.
Hassen (Port Charlotte, Fla.) pitched three innings of one-hit ball when he was tagged by a solo home run by Kurt Baxley in the bottom of the fourth giving the Spartans a 1-0 lead. Tampa followed with four more hits in the same inning including a two-run triple by Brad Chamberlain and a RBI single by Rosales putting the Spartans up 4-0.
Williams threw a complete game six-hitter for Tampa striking out five against just one walk. Roberto Valiente went 2-for-3 for Tampa.
Hassen completed five innings on the mound giving up seven hits and all four of the UT runs with four strikeouts and two walks. Perry had two of FGCU’s six hits.
FGCU (32-10 overall, 18-9 south region) will host Lynn University on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the FGCU Baseball Complex.