LAKELAND, FL - Austin Huber's third-inning grand slam proved massive as Florida Southern College baseball held off a late rally by Rollins for a 9-7 win in Sunshine State Conference action on Friday evening at Rodda Stadium at Henley Field. The Moccasins (19-13, 5-8 SSC) raced out to a 7-0 lead after three innings, but had to hold on late as the Tars (18-12, 6-7) scored five runs late in the game and got the tying run to the plate in the ninth before Leo Rodriguez slammed the door shut to preserve the win for the Mocs.
Friday's game nearly finished on Saturday morning as the teams waited out a lightning delay of more than two hours. The delay, which began with one out in the bottom of the first, kept both teams off the field until nearly 9 p.m. and a near four-hour game finally ended just minutes to midnight. Jacob Kelley (2-1) got the win in relief of J.J. Niekro, who did not return for the second inning following the long delay, while Garrett Leonard (2-2) took the loss. Rodriguez picked up his seventh save of the season by tossing his 12th-straight scoreless outing.
Florida Southern and Rollins will play the second of a three-game series on Saturday at 3 p.m. before wrapping up the weekend with a 1 p.m. game on Sunday.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- After the Tars went down in order in the top of the first, Vaun Brown reached base to lead off the bottom half of the inning when he was hit by a pitch. After Pablo Cabrera's groundout to short moved Brown into scoring position, lightning struck in the area and did not let up for more than two hours before play resumed just before 9 p.m. Zach Scott would walk in the first at-bat following the delay and Jacob Teter followed with a two-run double down the right-field line to make it 2-0.
- A scoreless second was followed by a 1-2-3 top of the third for Rollins. Back-to-back one-out walks drawn by Southern in the bottom of the third put Cody Duke in position to drive in a run with an RBI single through the left side. After Christian Maglich walked to load the bases in the next at-bat, Huber stepped to the plate and drilled a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right for the Mocs' first grand slam of the year to push the lead to 7-0.
- The Tars responded with their first runs of the game on Jack Gonzalez's two-run shot to center in the top of the fourth to slice the deficit to five (7-2), but the Moccasins answered back in the bottom half on Teter's mammoth blast to right to make it 8-2. Huber struck again in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI double to right center that made it 9-2.
- Rollins was able to get within four (9-5) by plating three runs in the top of the seventh inning. The first run came on a bases-loaded wild pitch with two outs and Gonzalez plated two more with his two-run double down the right-field line to make it 9-5. The deficit was trimmed even further in the top of the eighth when Cabrera fired the ball over the head of Teter at first base with the bases loaded to allow two runs to cross and make the score 9-7 after eight innings.
- After getting two quick outs to start the top of the ninth Rodriguez walked Cameron Meehan to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Cameron Montgomery, who fouled off two-straight 2-2 pitched before swinging and missing at a fastball to end the game.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern improved to 151-74 all-time against Rollins, including an 83-27 record when facing the Tars at home. Friday's game, the 225th meeting between the schools, makes the rivalry the most-played in Moccasin baseball history. The Mocs have won six in a row in the series with Rollins.
- Huber's grand slam, the first of his career, was the first grand slam for Florida Southern since Hayden Marze hit one against Florida Tech on April 13, 2018. The Mocs have now hit an SSC-leading 40 home runs this season.
- Rodriguez has now tossed 15.1 consecutive scoreless innings this year. He is 1-0 with seven saves and 25 strikeouts this year. Rodriguez now has 14 saves in his career, good for fourth in program history.
- Florida Southern and Rollins continue their three-game series with a 3 p.m. game on Saturday before closing out the weekend with a 1 p.m. contest on Sunday. The Mocs are on the road at Florida Tech next weekend (April 12-14) before returning home for three games against Palm Beach Atlantic (April 18-19) which includes a Friday doubleheader.