ALBANY, Ga. – Florida Southern put on another offensive showcase today outscoring South Regional opponent Albany State 33-11 in Saturday's doubleheader to the tune of 13-3 and 20-8 to complete the series sweep.
The Moccasins' (7-5) sweep this weekend was their second of the season against a SIAC school after taking all three games of a series in Orangeburg, S.C., against Claflin University during the weekend of February 6. It is also the Mocs second consecutive year sweeping Albany State who came to Lakeland last season.
Of the 18 position players in the two games, 11 had multi-hit games including three who had multiple hits in both games. Junior center fielder Sam Machonis (Tampa, Fla.) had a pair of three-hit games and was 6-for-9 on the day with a three bagger in game one and a dinger in the series finale while driving in three runs and scoring six. Senior left fielder Kyle Richards (Groton, Conn.) was a consistent 2-for-5 in both games with a pair of doubles in game one and drove in four runs while scoring three and increasing his team-leading stolen base total to a perfect 8-for-8. Junior shortstop Shawn Sanders (Citra, Fla.) continued his hot hitting from last night going 5-for-10 today with two doubles, three RBI, three runs scored, and a stolen base. Sanders was 8-for-15 in the series.
Senior first baseman Blake Swann (Live Oak, Fla.) and sophomore designated hitter Jason Sierra (Sarasota, Fla.) hit back-to-back homeruns in the seventh inning of game two, with Swann's coming with the bases juiced. This was the first time FSC had back-to-back bombs since March 31, 2012 when Mike Snyder and Austin Chubb did so in the first inning of a game one 6-2 win over Lynn. Swann's salami was the second of the season as junior outfielder David Lugo (Homestead, Fla.) hit one in the fifth inning of a February 7 meeting with Claflin.
The Mocs got out to an early lead in the first game off a single by senior second baseman Trevor Freeman (Shalimar, Fla.). Freeman drove in Machonis who had a one-out single in the 2nd inning, and advanced to second after junior right fielder Jhalan Jackson (Winter Haven, Fla.) was hit by a pitch. The Mocs would tally another run in the next frame after a one-out double by Sanders followed by a triple by senior third baseman Chris Dennis (Rockledge, Fla.).
With the offensive going off all weekend, it is easy to overlook the pitching, but sophomore starter A.J. Smith (Merritt Island, Fla.) improved to 2-0 on the season after a strong performance in game one. Smith scattered seven hits over six innings of work, and allowed just three runs (two earned). He fanned three and failed to give up any free passes again, only walking one batter all season in 15.1 innings of work.
The Golden Rams would respond with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning on a safety squeeze. All three of their runs came after innings in which the Moccasins scored; however, FSC scored nine of its 13 runs between the fourth and sixth innings. The three runs in the fourth came off a bases-loaded double down the left field line by Richards that cleared the bases. Richards would also start the rally in the sixth with a double that was just inside the bag at third. He would steal third, and, followed by a trio of walks by Dennis,Swann, and Machonis, would score. Jackson came up next, and the team's leader in doubles, homeruns, RBI, and slugging percentage would be hit for a second time bringing in the second run of the inning. After a pitching change, Sierra shot a single the other way stretching the lead to 9-2. The Mocs would get into double digits that same inning with a two-out, two-run single up the middle off the bat of senior catcher Joey Miller (Sarasota, Fla.).
In the finale, FSC wanted to continue smacking the ball, and would do so in the first inning with a two-spot. Dennis scored Richards on a sacrifice fly, and Sierra drove in Sanders after being hit by a pitch. Game two starter, sophomore Craig Savage (Apopka, Fla.), retired four of the first five batters he faced, but would give up two unearned runs in the second inning tying the game at two apiece. His offense would pick him up the next inning though. After Jackson reached on a fielding error and Machonis singled, Swann singled down the line in left to drive in the first of five Moccasin runs in the inning. Sierra followed Swann with a base on balls to load the bases for Freeman, who cleared them with a triple to center. He would score on a groundout by Richards.
Savage gave up a couple more unearned runs in the bottom of the inning, but would be picked up again with a trio of runs being scored the following inning thanks to a two-run jack from Machonis and an RBI single from sophomore catcher Kevin Fuller (Ocala, Fla.). Savage would go on to earn his first win of the 2015 campaign.
At this point, things looked to be in hand with the Mocs ahead 10-4, but that would not be the case. Albany State would fight its way back into the game, scoring four runs off the Florida Southern bullpen. The Golden Rams had life. They were right back in this game, now trailing just 10-8.
This feeling would not last long, however, as the Mocs put up their second 10+ run inning in as many days. They would send 16 batters to the plate in the final inning of the series, and mounted six hits. Two of those hits (and five of the 10 runs) came on the back-to-back shots by Swann and Sierra, while a single from Fuller scored Freeman, who was walked after a new pitcher came in after the pair of homers. Sanders drove in a pair with a double down the left field line, and Dennis went the other way for a base hit to drive in another. Swann's second time up in the inning nearly saw him go deep again with the bases loaded, but he would have to settle with a sacrifice fly to deep center and his fifth RBI of the inning. By the time the dust had settled, Florida Southern was back out to a comfortable lead, 20-8, which would go on to stand as the final.
Florida Southern returns home on Tuesday for a non-conference matchup with Florida Tech (11-0) with opening pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.