LAKELAND, FL - Alex Kennell turned in a strong starting pitching performance and Florida Southern College baseball held a 1-0 lead after six full innings, but were unable to hang on as the Detroit Tigers rallied back with a pair of three-run innings in the late stages to snag a 6-1 victory in a Spring Training exhibition on Thursday at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Kennell allowed just one hit and issued one walk while striking out three, in three full innings of work.
The Moccasins scored the first run of the game when Omar Villaman scored on an error in the top of the fourth, but the Tigers touched up the Mocs' bullpen for three runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth to win their 13th-straight win in the annual spring showdown. Florida Southern finished with one hit and an error in the game while Detroit tallied eight hits and committed four miscues in the field.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Both teams were slow on offense out of the gate as each went down without a whimper in the first inning. The Moccasins got the first baserunner of the game in the top of the second when Villaman reached on a fielding error by Tigers' second basemen Dawel Lugo. Villaman then stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Detroit catcher James McCann, but Hayden Marze lined out to the pitcher and Jacob Teter struck out to end the scoring threat.
• After the Tigers went down in order in the bottom of the second and the Mocs were retired in order in the top of the third, Detroit finally got runners on with a leadoff double from Jason Krizan and a walk from Kody Eaves. However, Kennell was able to regain his rhythm on the mound and retired the next three hitters to keep the game scoreless after three full.
• Villaman drew a two-out walk in the fourth inning and, in what seemed like déjà vu, again stole second and advanced to third on another throwing error by McCann. Browning then hit a routine ground ball to third, but Tigers third basemen Kody Eaves misplayed it and Browning reached safely as Villaman crossed home for the first run of the game.
• Florida Southern had one more solid scoring threat in the fifth when it loaded the bases with two outs, but Detroit reliever Enrique Burgos got out of the jam by striking out Alex Goebel to end the threat. Neither team could get anything going in the sixth, but the Tigers finally put things together in the seventh. Moccasin centerfielder Ryan Frost lost two fly balls in the sun, resulting in an RBI double and a two-run triple as Detroit took a 3-1 lead after seven.
• The Tigers would tack on three more runs in the eighth, on an RBI single and a two-run double, and Detroit shut down the Mocs in the top of the ninth to seal the victory. In addition to Kennell's outstanding performance, sophomore Thomas Spinelli also turned in a solid performance on the mound with two no-hit innings out of the pen. He struck out three and allowed just one baserunner, a walk to his very first batter of the day. Pablo Cabrera finished with FSC's lone hit on the afternoon, while Villaman, Cody Burgess, Vaun Brown, and Christian Maglich each drew a walk.
• Ryan Langford was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs, all earned, on four hits in two innings of work. Kevin Comer picked up the win for Detroit by tossing one scoreless inning in relief. In all, the Tigers pitching staff allowed just one hit and one unearned run while recording 18 strikeouts.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern and Detroit have met in each of the last 19 seasons, with the Tigers winning 13 in a row after the teams played to a 2-2, 10-inning tie in 2005. The Moccasins lone victory in the longstanding series with Detroit came on March 17, 1986 (5-3). The teams began their series back in 1978, and have played each year with the exception of a four-year span between 1994-98.
• The Moccasins return to regular-season play with a three-game weekend series at Sunshine State Conference rival Barry this weekend. The teams play a single game on Friday and a doubleheader on Saturday in Miami Shores. Florida Southern enters the weekend with a perfect 10-0 record and is ranked No. 4 in the nation in the latest NCBWA poll, which was released yesterday.