MELBOURNE, FL - Five different pitchers combined to allow just three runs and Alan Burnsed drove in a pair as Florida Southern College baseball came away with a 4-3 victory over Florida Tech in the first game of a three-game Sunshine State Conference series on Friday night at Andy Seminick-Les Hall Field. The Moccasins (20-15, 6-10 SSC) plated a pair of runs in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie and added on the eventual game-winning run in the seventh to hold off the Panthers (19-15, 8-8) to earn their 12th road win of the season.
J.J. Niekro (1-0) picked up the win by allowing just one run on five hits in 4.0 innings of work. He struck out three in an outing that was predetermined to go just four innings as he made his second start of the year after returning from injury on March 19 following a 27-game absence dating back to last year. Jacob Kelley tossed two scoreless innings in relief and Leo Rodriguez picked up his eighth save of the season by getting the final four outs.
Andrew Marzheuser (5-2) was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs on six hits in 4.2 innings of work. He struck out seven and walked just one, but exited the game in the fifth inning due to an apparent arm injury. Jordan Murray recorded the final out of the fifth inning for the Panthers before giving way to Justin Barney, who allowed one run on four hits in 4.0 innings in relief.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Neither team got on the board until the third inning when Florida Southern opened the scoring on Zach Scott's two-out single to left following Vaun Brown's leadoff double down the left field line. Florida Tech answered back immediately with back-to-back one-out doubles that tied things at 1-1 but was unable to score the go-ahead run as Niekro retired the last two batters to keep things even.
- After a scoreless fourth inning, the Mocs took the lead with a pair of runs in the fifth. Pablo Cabrera double to left with two outs and Scott drew a two-out walk in the next at-bat to put a pair of runners on. Murray would enter the game after Marzheuser's injury and threw a wild pitch that allowed the runners to advance to second and third before walking Jacob Teter to load the bases. That's when Burnsed ripped a single to left to plate the go-ahead runs and make it 3-1.
- The Panthers had a chance to score in the bottom half of the inning with the bases loaded and two outs, but Kelley induced a pop up to shortstop to end the inning and keep the two-run lead intact.
- Florida Southern scored a crucial insurance run in the seventh when Ricky Gonzalez singled with the bases loaded to bring Scott in from third and make it 4-1. Southern nearly plated a second run, but Teter was thrown out at the plate on Gonzalez's single and Isaiah Cullum flew out to right to end the threat.
- Things would get dicey for the Mocs in the bottom of the eighth when Pedro Rivera singled to center with two outs to bring in two runs and cut the deficit to one (4-3). With a runner on second and the go-ahead run at the plate, Rodriguez entered and got Rodnie Bernard to ground out to third to end the inning. Rodriguez would sit the Panthers down in order in the ninth to preserve the win.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern improved to 103-30 all-time against Florida Tech, including a 43-19 record when facing the Panthers on the road. The Moccasins have won 11 in a row against Florida Tech, including the last five in Melbourne.
- Rodriguez picked up his 15th career save to move one step closer to the top three in school history. He needs five more to tie Nate Carter for third place. Rodriguez has yet to allow an earned run this year (17.1) and has allowed just six hits while recording 25 strikeouts to just five walks.
- Jacob Teter reached base for the 35th-straight game by drawing three walks, while Cabrera picked up the 196th hit of his career with a 2-of-5 effort at the plate. He needs just 32 more to move into the top 10 in school history in career hits.
- The Mocs and Panthers will continue their three-game series with a 12 p.m. start on Saturday. The series is set to conclude with a 12 p.m. game on Sunday before Florida Southern returns home to face Palm Beach Atlantic in a three-game series (April 18-19).