TAMPA, Fla. - After defeating the vising Bentley College Falcons by a 5-1 score in the 2015 season opener on Saturday, the No. 1 University of Tampa Spartans baseball team returned on Sunday afternoon to pick up a 13-5 victory.
In just their second game of the year, the Spartans combined for a total of 13 hits on the afternoon, forcing three Bentley errors and earning five walks.
Senior lefty Casey Sparkman earned the win in the outing, tossing five complete innings and allowing just one run on two hits. He struck out six in 19 batters faced before junior lefty Michael Calkins appeared in relief. Calkins threw two innings, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out three. Junior LHP Kevin Martin wrapped up the game with appearances in the eighth and ninth, striking out three and allowing two runs on three hits.
The Spartans took the board in the bottom of the first, when senior Stephen Dezzi scored on a Bentley wild pitch.
The visiting Falcons responded in the top of the second inning on a sacrifice fly, by Tampa regained the lead in the bottom of the inning on a two-run outing. It was seniors Keaton Aldridge and Chris Pagliarulo who led off the inning with back-to-back free bases after getting hit by a pitch. The pair advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, before an outfield single from junior Ty Cooler drove both runs in. Junior Casey Scoggins then walked to give the Spartans another base runner, and a double down the line off the bat of junior Cody deNoyelles plated two more, giving Tampa a 5-1 lead.
After two quiet innings, the Spartans returned in the bottom of the fifth with an offensive explosion, scoring six runs on five hits, two errors, and a hit-by-pitch. After junior Joe Walsh took first on an HBP to lead off the inning, Aldridge singled to the left side to give the Spartans two base runners. Pagliarulo then reached on an error to load the bases, and Cooler then forced an error to score Walsh. With the bases still loaded and the score at 6-1, junior pinch hitter Zion Bell blasted a base-clearing triple to right center and propelled the Spartans to a 9-1 lead. One out later, junior Nick Flair sent a homer over the left field fence to force an 11-1 lead.
Bentley returned in the top of the sixth to score two runs, but Tampa responded in the bottom of the inning with two of their own. Pagliarulo jumpstarted the inning with a single to right field, and Cooler followed with a walk. With two runners on, Brett Jones blasted an RBI double that scored both Cooler and Pagliarulo, extending the lead to 13-3.
The visiting Falcons fought offensively in the top of the ninth, but the two-run surge would not be enough as the Spartans clinched a 13-5 victory.
Tampa will wrap up opening series against Bentley University on Monday, February 2 at 3 p.m. from UT Baseball Field. Live stats as well as a live video webcast will be available through www.tampaspartans.tv.
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