ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The #1 University of Tampa (1-0) baseball team opened the 2007 season just as they ended their 2006 schedule, with a win. A 10-3 victory over Eckerd (0-1) extended the Spartans current win streak to 20 games, which is the second longest such streak in school history.
Tampa was supposed to be a small ball team this season, bunting, stealing and using the hit and run to manufacture runs, but as of game one the new Spartans look a lot like the old as they belted four homeruns accounting for seven Tampa runs as they cruised to victory.
One of Tampa's returning starters, Ryan Kennedy got the ball rolling as he hit a solo homerun that caught the wind and carried over the left field fence. Jose Jimenez followed up with a hard single through the right side but the Spartans were unable to get any more runs as they headed into the field.
The Tritons seemingly undaunted by the defending national champions answered back with two RBI hits, one down the right field line by Alfredo Cabale and the other a double down the left field line by Jeff Bromley, scoring Wes Williams and Grant Massie respectively. Giving Eckerd College an early 2-1 lead. After a scoreless second inning, Jimenez led off the third with a monster blast that left the park over the left centerfield fence, tying the game at two.
Roberto Mena walked and attempted to steal second but was thrown out on a perfect toss by Eckerd's Cory Sylvester. Craig Corrado singled to left but was caught leaning and picked off at first, as Tampa once again couldn't add any more runs to follow-up the long ball. First year Spartan, starting pitcher Kevin Ferguson got himself out of a one out jam with runners on first and second by striking out Steve Skriner and forcing a fielder's choice out of Bromley.
In the top of the fifth, Troy Ferguson laced a double over the head of the leaping left fielder, he later stole third and scored on a Mena groundout for a 3-2 Tampa lead.
The Tritons threatened in the bottom of the sixth after Skriner advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a fielder's choice. But converted catcher, Scott Leffler forced a weak dribbler back to the mound off the bat of Phil Weylie to end the inning. K. Ferguson left the game after five and two thirds innings pitched allowing only two first inning runs and striking out four batters in his first appearance in a Tampa uniform.
With two outs and T. Ferguson on second, Mena lifted a 2-1 fastball over the left center fence for his first homerun of the year and the team's third of the night. In his one and a third innings tossed, Leffler got the Spartans out of a jam in the sixth and struck out three batters in the seventh allowing only a walk, before being replaced by Craig Benner.
Tampa added two more runs in the top of the eighth as junior transfer, Junior Mejia crossed the plate and later T. Ferguson scored on a wild pitch, giving Tampa a 7-2 advantage. Eckerd inched closer in their half of the eighth with a run, as Cabale crossed the plated on a wild pitch after he led off the inning with a double.
Another Tampa newcomer made himself comfortable in the lineup as Ryan Williams crushed a three-run homerun against the wind to right field, giving the Spartans a final 10-3. Pat House came in to close the game and struck out two for a perfect ninth. K. Ferguson (1-0) took the win and Eckerd's Joe Sinicola (0-1) suffered the loss.
Mena finished the night 1-3 with a homerun and three RBI, Williams also finished with three RBI.
Top-Ranked Tampa will hold a Grand Re-Opening of The University of Tampa Baseball Field tomorrow as they host the #2 Georgia College & State Bobcats at 3:00 pm with a double-header.