Baseball Splits with Top-Ranked Tampa
FORT MYERS, Fla. – No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast University and No. 1 University of Tampa split a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Swanson Stadium, with the Eagles holding off the Spartans 10-7 in the nightcap after Tampa won the opener 19-2.
In game two, freshman Josh Upchurch (Cape Coral, Fla.) went 4-for-4 and scored three runs to key a 13-hit attack for FGCU. Senior Jason Louwsma (Sanford, Fla.) went 3-for-3 with two RBI while junior Derek Mollica (Boca Raton, Fla.) drove in three runs and freshman Casey Coleman (Cape Coral, Fla.) had two RBI. Eagles’ junior right-hander Chris Hassen (Port Charlotte, Fla.) improved to 4-1 after allowing five runs – four of them earned – and striking out five in six innings of work.
After the Spartans reached Hassen for an unearned run in the first, the Eagles came back to score four runs in the bottom of the first for a 4-1 lead. Tampa cut the lead to 4-2 with a run in the top of the second but FGCU answered with three runs in the bottom of the second, highlighted by a two-run home run to left-centerfield by Mollica, for a commanding 7-2 lead. They extended the lead to 9-3 with a pair of runs in the fourth inning.
FGCU held a five-run lead into the seventh before the Spartans rallied for two runs to make 10-7 but junior reliever Matt Laliberte (New Port Richey, Fla.) escaped the jam by stranding two Spartans base runners with they tying run at the plate. Orlando Rosales and Jose Jimenez each went 4-for-4 for Tampa, which out-hit FGCU 16-13. Right-hander Johnny Williams (3-1) suffered his first loss for the Spartan
In the opener, Tampa sent 14 batters to the plate in the third, scoring nine runs on nine hits. The Spartans added two runs in the fourth and three more in both the fifth and seventh inning for a 17-0 lead. Spartans starter Ross Jackson (4-0) held the Eagles without a hit for the first 6 1/3 innings until Louwsma belted a two-run home run, his eight long ball of the year, to score Upchurch, who led off the inning with a walk. It would be the only hit for FGCU in the game. Junior Jason Kiley (Palm Harbor, Fla.) took the loss on the mound for the Eagles to fall to 5-2.
FGCU (27-7 overall and 19-5 in the South Region), travels to Miami Shores for a big three-game regional series with Barry beginning Friday night at 6 p.m.