TAMPA, FL - Florida Southern scored four runs in the fifth inning to back a combined seven-hitter by J.J. Niekro and J.T. Hintzen as the sixth-ranked Moccasins downed No. 4 Tampa 5-1 in the opening game of a Sunshine State Conference twinbill here at UT Baseball Field on the University of Tampa campus. The Spartans countered with a 16-9 win in game two as the two teams wrap up the regular season.
Florida Southern (39-9-1 overall and 22-8 in the SSC) and Tampa (38-9 and 27-3 in the SSC) now await word on their respective NCAA postseason fates which will come Sunday at 10 p.m. during the NCAA Regional Selection Show which may be viewed at NCAA.com.
HOW IT HAPPENED - GAME ONE
Tampa struck first with a solo run off of Niekro (6-1) in the third as Brandon Gali reached on a fielder's choice and then stole second. Nick DeTringo followed with a single to left field to drive in Gali and put the home-standing Spartans up, 1-0.
Florida Southern sent 10 men to the plate in a four-run fifth inning with the first seven batters reaching base off Tampa starter Clay Helvey (5-0). Marze started the frame reaching on an infield error while Jacob Teter followed with a single through the right side. Christian Maglich loaded the bases by reaching on Tampa's second infield error of the inning. Dylan Costa laced a double to score Marze and Teter while Cody Burgess and Pablo Cabrera followed with back-to-back RBI singles. Austin Mauer then drilled a ball past a diving Darren Miller at third. On the play, Burgess and Miller collided and it appeared as though the base umpire ruled defensive interference and awarded Burgess home, but Tampa followed through on the play and easily tagged Burgess, who was trotting home. The two umpires conferred and the call was overruled and Burgess was indeed out, but the Moccasins grabbed a 4-1 lead.
The Moccasins added an insurance run in the top of the seventh as Cabrera walked, stole second, and then scored on a single by Omar Villaman.
Hintzen, who got the win in Friday night's game to move to 12-0, came on in the sixth inning in relief of Niekro and tossed four shutout innings to earn his first save of the season. The senior righthander struck out three and held Tampa to four hits. Niekro went 5.0 innings and limited the Spartans to one run on three hits with five strikeouts. Neither Niekro or Hintzen walked a batter.
All nine Moccasins had at least one hit in the game with Logan Browning getting a pair of singles on a 2-for-3 day.
HOW IT HAPPENED - GAME TWO
Florida Southern wasted no time in putting up runs on the scoreboard, scoring twice in the first inning without the benefit of a hit. Cody Burgess opened the game by reaching on an infield error on the first offering from Tampa starter Colton Widdows, who was making his first start of the season. After a stolen base by Burgess and two groundouts, Widdows proceeded to walk four straight Moccasins to give Florida Southern a 2-0 lead.
Tampa answered with four runs on five hits in the bottom of the first off Moccasin starter Trevor Castell (3-2) to grab a 4-2 lead. The Spartans tacked on another four-run inning in the second and added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth for a 10-2 lead.
The Moccasins put up a solo run in the top of the sixth as Marze led off with a walk and stole second before scoring on a single to left by Alex Goebel to make the score 11-3 in favor of the home team.
The Spartans sent 10 men to the plate in a five-run seventh, stretching their lead to 16-3.
Florida Southern came through with four runs in the eighth inning on four hits. Marze singled and scored on Teter's double while Maglich added a single. One out later, Ricky Gonzalez walked and Ryan Frost grounded out to plate one run. Cabrera then singled to right field to drive in two more runs as the Moccasins cut the lead to 16-7.
The Moccasins closed out the scoring with a pair of run in the ninth on an RBI-double by Teter and an error by Tampa.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Florida Southern leads the all-time series, 109-100, dating back to 1957.
Browning's second-inning single in game one extended his hitting streak to 21 games, the longest since Chris Dennis put together a 28-game streak in 2015. In game two, Browning grounded out in his first at-bat and walked in his second trip to the plate before being lifted for a pinch hitter as Coach Lance Niekro went to his bench, thus bringing an end to the hit streak. However, he has reached base safely in 33 consecutive games now.
Maglich collected a base hit in both games of the doubleheader to push his hit streak to 14 games. He has now reached base safely in 25 games while Marze has a 23-game streak of reaching base.
The NCAA South Regional Tournament will be held May 17-21 at a site to be announced Sunday evening.