FORT MYERS, Fla. – No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast University held No. 1 Tampa to just four runs but it wasn’t enough as solid pitching propelled Tampa to a 4-1 victory at Swanson Stadium on Friday night. Tampa is now 27-4 while FGCU had a 12-game win streak snapped and falls to 26-6.
The Eagles were out-hit 14-8 by the Spartans while stranding 11 base runners in the game. The Spartans all-South Region right-hander Sergio Perez (5-2) worked out several jams to hold the Eagles to six hits over six innings while recording 12 strikeouts
“We had our opportunities tonight, leaving the bases loaded twice and a bunch of runners on,” said FGCU head coach Dave Tollett. “Perez is one of the best Division II pitchers in the country and the bottom line is that you have to take advantage of the few mistakes he makes. They were able to get the big hits when they needed them and we didn’t.”
Perez got out his first jam in the bottom of the first as the Eagles loaded the bases with a pair of singles and walk. But a strikeout and a ground ball back to the mound ended the threat. The Spartans came back to post single run in the second inning on three hits and manufactured a run in third on a triple and sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the third when senior Jason Louwsma (Sanford, Fla.) singled home Josh Upchurch, who reached on a bunt single and stole second and third.
Neither team would score through the sixth inning as FGCU starter Justin Stiver (Englewood, Fla.) matched Perez with three scoreless innings. FGCU again loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning after a single by sophomore Mike Cleghorn (Jacksonville, Fla.) and a pair of walks, but Perez got junior Geoff Rottmayer (Clearwater, Fla.) to strike out and induced freshman Casey Coleman (Cape Coral, Fla.) to fly to right field to end the inning.
But the Spartans picked up an insurance run on two hits off Stiver (5-2) in the seventh for a 3-1 lead. The Eagles threatened again in the eighth inning against UT relievers Jordan Williams and Aaron Cook. A pair of hits gave the Eagles runners at the corners with two away but Cook got Graig Smith to hit into a fielder’s choice to hold the lead 3-1.
Cleghorn and Louwsma had a pair of hits each for FGCU. Right fielder Troy Ferguson had four hits for the Spartans.
The two teams conclude the three-game series on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.