TAMPA, Fla. - On a day that saw the jersey retirement of a Tampa great, the Spartans swept an important double-header, with the scores of 16-8 and 9-4. Tampa (3-0) cruised by the second-ranked Georgia College and State Bobcats (0-2) after falling behind 7-0 in the first two innings of game one.
In the first game of the double-header, the Bobcats came out swinging as their first four batters had hits, including a three-run homerun by Brandon Anderson. Later in the frame, Tripp Burt singled in Daniel Heflin, giving Georgia College an early 4-0 advantage.
Georgia College didn't let up in the second, after Tampa went three and out, they extended their lead to seven. Justin Mills led off with a triple to deep center, then later scored on Hans Stancil's sacrifice fly. After an Anderson walk, Tampa starter, Anthony Perez was pulled in favor of Scott Chapman to face clean-up hitter Casey Cullen. Cullen took the first pitch he saw and drove it over the left field fence for two more runs. Chapman settled down and stuck out the next two batters on six pitches.
Perez's first outing as a Spartan ended after one and a third innings pitched and six runs given up.
Tampa moved within reach in the bottom of the second after they scored three runs and chased Bobcat starter, Andy Reichard after only one and a third innings pitched. The Spartans were able to load the bases, before Ryan Williams drew a walk for his fourth RBI of the young season. The next batter was Junior Mejia who crushed a fastball over the head of the center fielder for a two run double. Tampa was robbed of more runs on a hard Kennedy grounder up the middle that was picked by second baseman , Stancil, and tossed to first to end the inning.
The Spartans completed their seven run comeback in the third, that began with one out when Roberto Mena doubled to left. Back-to-back singles by Craig Corrado and Paul Cruz loaded the bases. Chris Rosenbaum came to the plate and soon was standing on second after he hit a two RBI double to left. Already with a two-run double in the second inning, Mejia did the same in third, this time to right, tying the contest at seven.
After Chapman set the Bobcats down in order in the fourth, the Spartans took their first lead of the contest after Kennedy scored from third on a wild pitch. Corrado added to the Tampa lead when he hit his first homerun of the season high up the left field netting, Jose Jimenez scored as well. Cruz, the very next batter, drove the ball over the right field fence for his first homerun in his first game as a Spartan.
In the seventh, Georgia College's Heflin tripled to center and then scored on Bryan Shaughnessy's double ending Chapman's evening and bringing the score closer at 11-8.
Chapman made his first Tampa appearance memorable as he threw five and a third innings, allowing only two runs and striking out nine batters against the second-ranked team in the nation.
The game was put out of reach in the bottom of the seventh as the Spartans added five more runs, highlighted by Corrado's second homerun of the game, this one a three-run blast to center. After eight innings, Tampa led 16-8.
Jonathan Holt relieved the game winner, Chapman (1-0) with two outs in the seventh and closed the out the game, allowing only two hits and no runs. Cletus Jessup (0-1) took the loss for the Bobcats after giving up five runs in his 1.2 innings of work.
Corrado ended the game 3-5 with two homeruns and five RBI and Mejia was 3-4 with two doubles and four runs batted in.
In between games, Tampa assistant coach and former Spartan baseball great, Sam Militello was honored with the retirement of his number 22 jersey. His number now hangs on the outfield fence with only two others, former coach, Lelo Prado (1) and former national player of the year, Tino Martinez (3).
The second game of the twin-bill started out a little differently than the first. Tampa junior, Johnny Williams struck out the first batter he faced and allowed only an infield single before retiring the side.
Just like last night against Eckerd, Kennedy came to the plate with one out and crushed an opposite field homerun to give Tampa the early 1-0 lead. Back-to-back doubles by Jimenez and Mena added another run heading into the second inning.
Tampa held their 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third, where they exploded for seven runs as they batted around the order. For third time of the day Corrado hit a round-tripper, this time driving in Mena along with him. Troy Ferguson, Rosenbaum and Jimenez all had RBI singles in the frame.
The top of the fourth saw the Bobcats score their first run of the ballgame, when Pete Paris hit a sacrifice fly to deep center, scoring Heflin.
The fourth was Williams' last inning. He gave up only one unearned run on three hits and left the game with an eight run lead.
Georgia College added three more runs off relief pitcher Justin Valdes and it may have been more without the 4-6-3 double play started beautifully by Kennedy. For the Bobcats, Mills, Stancil and Anderson crossed the plate before Craig Benner came in to close out the inning with a strikeout of Rich Janofsky, then tossed the final two innings of the contest allowing only three hits.
Williams (1-0) began the season the same he did a year ago, with a victory over these same Bobcats.
With the sweep of the double-header Tampa has now won 22 consecutive games dating back to April 22 of last year, breaking the old record of 21 which was also set last season.
The Spartans continue their three game set against Georgia College and State tomorrow at 12:00 noon.