PENSACOLA – After battling through 16 tough innings of south region baseball, the 16th-ranked Moccasins are still searching for their first victory after falling 4-3 and 3-2 to the no. 35 West Florida Argonauts at Jim Spooner Field on Saturday.
For Florida Southern (0-2), juniors Dominic Brugnoni (St. Clair Shores, Mich.) and Blake Swann (Live Oak, Fla.) led the way in the first game with two hits a piece with Brugnoni adding a run scored and an RBI. In game two, newcomers Sam Machonis (Tampa, Fla.) and Shawn Sanders (Cirta, Fla.) led the way offensively with Machonis going 2-for-4 and Sanders driving in both runs.
The Moccasins got themselves into an early deficit in game one after West Florida's (2-0) leadoff hitter Chase Kiefer went first-to-third on a failed pickoff attempt following his leadoff single. He would later score on a single to left.
Defense would keep Florida Southern in the game early and help junior Ben Richardson (Orlando, Fla.) settle in on the mound. The Mocs turned a pair of double plays in the first three innings, including an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play in the third with runners on first and second.
After mounting just one hit the first time through the lineup, the bats would come alive in the top of the top of the fourth as FSC led off with three back-to-back singles by senior Chris Dennis (Rockledge, Fla.), Swann, and Brugnoni to knot the game at one. A failed pickoff attempt by the Argonaut pitcher who tried to catch Brugnoni sleeping at first allowed the Mocs to pull ahead, as well as move the former right fielder 90-feet from scoring. A 2-out single to left by sophomore catcher Kevin Fuller (Ocala, Fla.) would add some insurance and make it a 3-1 game. Brugnoni stretched his team-leading hitting streak to five games with his 23rd-career multi-hit game.
In the bottom half of the frame, Richardson struck out two, and nearly had his second one-two-three of the game if not for a pass ball allowing the UWF batter to advance to first. He would force the next batter to ground out to second to end the inning. He would get into a bit of trouble late in the next inning, however, as a 2-out homer from Kiefer would bring the Argos within one. With the following pitch hitting Ledarious Clark, him stealing second, and the next batter walking, Richardson found himself in a bit of a jam, but got out of it with a fielder's choice to Dennis at second. He would end the day after throwing 6.1 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on nine hits, striking out four, and walking three.
UWF would tack on their third run of the game to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. After two quick outs, the Argos managed to string together their own triplet of hits to tie the game. They would take the lead an inning later on a sac-fly from Jean Figueroa. Sophomore Craig Savage (Apopka, Fla.) came in to relieve Richardson, going 1.2 innings and retiring four of the five batters he faced including a strikeout. The one hit that Savage allowed came with two outs in the eighth, but was neutralized with the third Moccasin double play of the game.
Clark would continue to pester the Mocs in game two with a one-out, first inning walk before stealing second, and, after a strikeout from Mocs starter Stephen Brooks (Glen Allen, Va.), would be thrown out trying to steal third after the ball bounced away from senior catcher Joey Miller (Sarasota, Fla.). He would add a two-run double in the bottom of the third making the game 3-0. UWF's first run came in the bottom of the second on a ground out to short. Brooks finished with 3-plus innings pitched, surrendered three runs (two earned) on four hits, and struck out four while walking two.
The Mocs would begin their comeback in the top of the fifth that started when junior Jhalan Jackson (Winter Haven, Fla.) reached on an error by the shortstop. The bases would become loaded after a walk by Miller and a bunt single down the third baseline by junior Kyle Richards. With two outs, Sanders earned his first hit as a Moccasin with a single through the left side that also brought in his first two RBI's.
In the bottom half of the frame, UWF threatened when a one-out double to center got through, but a picture-perfect relay by the shortstop Sanders cut down Clark at the plate and kept it a one run game.
FSC kept up the pressure in the top of the sixth when a one-out walk by Brugnoni and a double to left center by Jackson put ducks on the pond for sophomore transfer Jason Sierra (Sarasota, Fla.). Sierra hit a rifle to third, which had plenty of time to throw home to preserve the lead.
Florida Southern and West Florida will conclude the three-game series tomorrow with the first pitch scheduled for 12 p.m.