Errors Prove Costly for Mocs in Series Opener Against Florida Tech
LAKELAND - Florida Southern couldn't overcome two fielding errors and a passed ball that led to four unearned runs in the 14th-ranked Moccasins 6-4 setback Friday night in the opener of its Sunshine State Conference series against Florida Tech at Henley Field.
With the loss, the Mocs fall to 25-12 overall and 8-5 in the SSC, while Florida Tech improves to 23-16 overall and 7-9 in the SSC.
The Mocs finished the night with eight hits, including a 3-for-4 night at the plate by redshirt sophomore rightfielder Dominic Brugnoni (St. Clair Shores, Mich.), but could never string together a big inning off of Jerrod Leinhauser after scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
After senior Clay Chapman (Orlando, Fla.) struck out two of four batters he faced in the top of the first inning, the Mocs had its first five batters in its line-up reach base, including four of them reaching with a hit and the other, junior centerfielder Keith Curcio (Sarasota, Fla.) drawing a walk from Leinhauser. The first run come home on an RBI single by senior first baseman Trey Vavra (Menomonie, Wis.), while one batter later, junior third baseman Chris Dennis (Rockledge, Fla.) drove home the second run on hit single to left and Brugnoni brought home the third run on a single up the middle. Leinhauser, though, would get out of the jam by striking out freshman designated hitter Scottie Withrow (Seminole, Fla.) and forcing junior catcher Joey Miller (Sarasota, Fla.) to line into a double play.
The Panthers got two of those runs back in the second inning thanks to a 2-out, 2-run single by Andrew Bartlett that came two batters after senior shortstop Jimmy Correnti (Fort Myers, Fla.) committed an error on a ground ball hit by David Johannessen. Both of the runs in the inning would be unearned.
Tech would tie the game in the top of the fifth inning thanks to an error, a sacrifice bunt and an RBI single by Grant McKown to even the score at 3-all.
The Panthers would take a 5-3 lead in the top of the sixth inning thanks to three hits, a wild pitch by Chapman and a passed ball.
Tech would extend its lead to 6-3 in the seventh inning thanks to two singles, a sacrifice bunt and an RBI groundout by Kevin Wortman off of Chapman.
The Mocs would pull within 6-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning thanks to fielder's choice grounder by Vavra that plated Correnti, who had singled up the middle earlier in the inning. Vavra's fielder's choice loaded the bases with two outs, but Leinhauser once again got out of the jam by forcing Dennis to ground out to second to end the inning.
Leinhauser (5-3) would retire the Mocs in order over the final two innings to complete his complete game win. For the game, he pitched all nine innings and allowed eight hits and four runs, while walking two and striking out five in the 100-pitch outing.
Chapman, who is the team's ace, took the loss as the right-hander pitched seven innings and allowed 12 hits and six runs, but just two earned runs, while striking out five and walking none. In 71.1 innings of work this season, Chapman, who threw 91 pitches on Friday night, has recorded 69 strikeouts and walked just 16 batters. Over his last five starts, Chapman, who is 2-2 with one no-decision in that span, has walked just two batters and struck out 29 in 36 innings of work.
In addition to Brugnoni, who is the reigning SSC Player of the Week, five other Mocs recorded a hit in the loss.
Tech, who finished with 13 hits, was paced offensively on the night by McKown as he had three hits in five at-bats in the win, while four other Panthers had two hits and Bartlett finished with three RBIs on the night.
The two teams will conclude the three-game series with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. at Henley Field. The Mocs are scheduled to send senior Brian Johnson (Oldsmar, Fla.) and sophomore Ben Richardson (Orlando, Fla.), who is the reigning SSC and NCBWA South Region Pitcher of the Week, to the mound in Saturday's doubleheader.