ST. PETERSBURG – Evan Barnes drove in five runs in the game and Shawn Sanders hit a two-run homer over the left center field fence to cap a five-run fifth inning and as the 9th-ranked Moccasins cruised past Eckerd, 17-4, in the opening game of a three-game Sunshine State Conference series here Thursday at the Turley Athletic Complex. The 17 runs is a season-high for Florida Southern.
Florida Southern (18-7 overall and 4-3 in the SSC) struck first as Logan Browning led off the first inning with the first of his three doubles in the contest. Sam Machonis followed with a double of his own to plate Browning for the first of his four runs scored in the game, and give the Mocs a 1-0 lead. In the second, Sander and Blake Swann, playing his first game since Jan. 31, each drew walks and scored on yet another Moccasin double, this time by Barnes.
After scoring an unearned run the first, Eckerd (9-12, 2-8 SSC) plated three runs in the second off Moccasin starter Ben Richardson on three hits, including a solo homer by Tom Buonapane to lift the Tritons to a 4-3 lead.
Richardson settled down and held Eckerd scorelsss through the seventh inning before departing. The victory gives Richardson a 7-1 record with the seven wins putting him atop the NCAA Division II stats in that category. He left the game with 7.0 innings pitched and held the Tritons to four hits with six strikeouts.
The Moccasins broke the game open in the fifth sending nine men to the plate. Browning hit his second double to lead off the rally while one one out, Reeves, Sierra, and Dominic Brugnoni, all hit consecutive singles to three runs while Sanders' blast made it 9-4.
Florida Southern kept it going in the sixth as Browning again led things off, this time with a walk. Two outs later, Sierra drew a walk and Brugnoni singled to plate Browning and Sierra came across on a wild pitch.
Reeves drove in two more runs with a bases-loaded single in the seventh for a 13-4 Moccasin lead. In the eighth, Sanders doubled and pinch-hitter Scottie Withrow singled while Evan Barnes smashed his first homer of the year over the left field fence for a 16-4 FSC margin. Withrow drove in the Moccasins' final run in the ninth with a single to score Reeves.
Browning, Reeves, and Sanders all had three hits for Florida Southern which collected 19 hits, marking the 20th time this season the team has reached double digits in hits. Brugnoni, Swann, Barnes and Withrow all had two hits a piece for the Moccasins.
In addition to the five RBI from Barnes, FSC also got two RBI a piece from Reeves, Sierra, Brugnoni, and Sanders. Behind Browning's three doubles, the Moccasins had seven two-baggers as a team.
Chase Pilato pitched a scoreless eighth inning for Florida Southern while Walker Burgess tossed a scoreless ninth, finishing the game with three straight strikeouts after allowing Eckerd to load the bases on a single and two walks.
The same two teams will play a doubleheader Thursday at 1 p.m. in St. Petersburg.