LAKELAND – Reliever Brady Arenson came into the game with no outs in the top of the seventh and, despite allowing a two-run triple to the first batter he faced, recovered to set down the last nine Florida Tech batters in order to shut down a Panther rally and help 17th-ranked Florida Southern seal an 12-9 Sunshine State Conference win here Friday night at Henley Field.
Florida Southern, 12-6 and winners of four straight, took a 11-3 lead into the seventh inning. Florida Tech, which came into the game with an 11-game win streak, opened the seventh with four runs and had runners on second and third with no outs when Arenson entered the game and allowed a two-run triple to Daniel Szpik. The senior lefty then struck out one batter, got a second to pop up to third, and got the third out with his second strikeout.
In the eighth, Arenson struck out two of the three batters he faced, before getting some defensive help in the top of the ninth. Leftfielder Dominic Brugnoni made a great diving catch of a fly ball while Shawn Sanders made a nice grab and throw on a tough grounder for out number two. Brugnoni made a more routine catch for the final out to give Arnenson his first save on the season.
Florida Southern, now 1-3 in the SSC, got its first run in the second inning as Brugnoni and Sanders led off the frame with back-to-back singles. One out and a walk later, Logan Browning was plunked with a pitch to force in Brugnoni.
The third inning again started hot for the Moccasins as Mitch Reeves and Jason Sierra opened with consecutive doubles for one run. One out later, Sanders sent a bouncing ground ball over the head of the third baseman to score a second score and then stole second and scored on a single off the bat of Ryan Frost for the third run of the inning.
The Moccasins scored three more runs in the sixth as Sanders blasted his second homer of the season over the left field fence with Brugnoni on board after a single. Frost then reached on a strikeout/wild pitch and wound up on second on the play. Evan Barnes drove in Frost with a single down the left field line for 7-0 Florida Southern lead.
Meanwhile, Moccasin starter Ben Richardson was keeping Florida Tech (2-2 in the SSC) off the scoreboard, holding the Panthers to just four hits – three coming in the third inning – while striking out five. In the sixth, Florida Tech plated three runs, highlighted by a two-run homer by Szpik, who would finish a double shy of hitting for a cycle.
In the bottom of the sixth, Sam Machonis slammed his team-leading fourth homer of the year, this time with Browning on base after a walk. Reeves and Sierra singled with Reeves scoring a sacrifice by Sanders and Sierra coming across on a Frost single for a 11-3 lead.
Richardson, who picked up his league-leading fifth win against one loss, started the seventh, but after a walk and a single, was lifted for Walker Burgess, who gave up a walk and two doubles before giving way to Arenson.
Florida Southern's final tally came in the seventh as Browning tripled and scored on a sacrfice frly by Sanders who finished with three hits and four runs batted in.
Machonis, Reeves, Sierra, Brugnoni, and Frost all had two hits a piece for Florida Southern as the Moccasins reached double digits in hits for an eighth straight game and the 13th time in the last 14 games.
The same two teams will play a doubleheader Saturday at 1 pm at Henley Field.