LAKELAND, Fla. - After suffering their second conference loss last night, the third ranked team in the land took two games from the fourth ranked Moccasins (22-5, 1-2). The Spartans (23-5, 4-2) took game one with a score of 8-6. Game two was even more one-sided with a 6-1 final score.
The Spartans struck first in the second inning of game one, taking advantage of a Florida Southern fielding error. Paul Cruz topped a ball back to the pitcher that couldn't be handled cleanly. On the next pitch Cruz stole second and later moved to third on Charlie Raley's sacrifice bunt. Junior Mejia's ground out to second was enough to score the run and Tampa, as they did a night earlier took the first lead of the game.
Mejia's two run single in the top of the fourth was the third of five straight Spartan singles that led to a total of three runs. All five hits and all three runs came with two outs. Troy Ferguson's single to left center sent Mejia across the plate as Tampa built a 4-0 lead.
Southern answered with a run in their half of the fourth on an RBI single by Tristan Rainone, scoring Kyle Patrick.
The Spartans added to their lead in the fifth with three more runs. With Craig Corrado on third, pinch-hitter Nolan Brannon grounded out to second picking up an RBI. Chris Rosenbaum then doubled in Roberto Mena and later scored himself on Raley's sacrifice fly to right.
The Moccasins got themselves back in the game in the sixth with three runs to close Tampa's lead to 7-4. Rainone, Derek Lokey and Wade Waybrant each had RBI.
Mejia's speed led to another Spartan run in the eighth. After he led off with a triple to deep left center field, Mejia took off on a passed ball extending the visitor's lead to four at 8-4.
Bryan Brown made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run homerun off Scott Chapman, but with one out, Jonathan Holt came in and slammed the door on any hopes of a Southern comeback as he notched his 13th save of the season.
Johnny Williams tossed 5.1 innings and improved his record to 5-0 on the season.
In all three games this series Tampa scored first, in the third game they put two across the plate in the second inning. Mena smashed a one-out triple over the head of the center fielder and later scored on a wild pitch. Later in the inning Ryan Williams singled sharply up the middle driving in Rosenbaum.
Florida Southern got their first hit off of Kevin Ferguson in the third as well as their first run. Robbie Shields drove in Arden McWilliams but was thrown out at second trying to advance on the throw. That defensive play and K. Ferguson's sixth strikeout ended the Moccasins' potential big inning.
Kennedy and Jose Jimenez hit back-to-back homeruns in the top of the fifth inning as Tampa scored four runs in the frame to extend their lead to 6-1. Kennedy's two run blast was made possible after T. Ferguson's triple to left center. After Jimenez hit his eighth homer of the year, Mena scored on a wild pitch for the fourth run of the inning.
K. Ferguson delivered with arguably his best pitching performance of the season tossing five innings of three hit ball, allowing only one run with seven strikeouts, improving his record to 4-2. Scott Leffler pitched two perfect innings closing the game.
Tampa returns to action Friday, as they play host to Florida Gulf Coast at The University of Tampa Baseball Stadium.