TAMPA, Fla. - The No. 2 ranked University of Tampa Spartans baseball team swept doubleheader play against the visiting Eckerd College Tritons, Saturday afternoon. The Sunshine State Conference victories propelled the Spartans to a 6-2 SSC record on the year.
Junior righty David Heintz took the mound for the Spartans in the game one victory, tossing 6.2 innings and allowing just one earned run on five hits. The starter, whose record improved to 4-3 with the win, faced 30 batters in the appearance, walking four and striking out one.
Sophomore Jake Mielock appeared in relief in the sixth , throwing a complete inning and allowing an earned run on two hits. Junior Dylan Barrow and senior Taylor Brookes combined to finish out the game, holding the Tritons to no hits and no runs. As a pitching staff, the Spartans held the Tritons to just seven hits in game one.
After a scoreless first inning, it was the No. 2 Spartans who took to the scoreboard in the bottom of the second, forcing an early 3-0 lead. Giovanny Alfonzo and Ian Townsend led off the inning with walks, and advanced one base each on a sacrifice bunt from Cody deNoyelles. With runners in scoring position, a timely Eckerd wild pitch fell in favor of the Spartans, scoring Alfonzo and placing Townsend on third base. Tampa's Nick Tindall then took first base on a walk, and advanced to second on a passed ball to give the Spartans two runners in scoring position. One out later, it was junior Keaton Aldridge who sent a pitch screaming to the right-centerfield wall to pick up a double and score Townsend and Tindall.
In the top of the third, Eckerd was able to plate two runs on two hits and a Tampa error, holding the Spartans scoreless in the Tampa half of the inning. The Tritons tacked on another in the top of the fourth inning as well, tying the game at 3-3.
With the score tied, the top-ranked Spartans returned in the bottom of the fourth inning to rally for two runs and take back the lead. Tindall led off the inning with a free base on a hit-by-pitch, and one out later, a single up the middle from Aldridge allowed Tindall to take third base. Back-to-back RBI singles from Casey Scoggins and Brett Jones scored Tindall and Aldridge, forcing a 5-3 Tampa lead.
Tampa tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to a two-out double from deNoyelles and an RBI single from Tindall.
Continuing to hold the Tritons scoreless, the Spartans extended their lead to 8-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Aldridge, who went 4-4 in the game, led off the Tampa at-bat with a double down the right-field line, and was moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt from Scoggins. Brett Jones then stepped to the plate, sending a 1-0 pitch flying over the right-field fence for a homerun and 2 RBI.
Neither team scored in the seventh inning, but the Tritons appeared in the top of the eighth to rally for two runs on two hits, two walks, and a Tampa error.
In the bottom of the eighth, however, the Spartans responded with three runs of their own, extending the lead to 11-5. Leading Tampa with a 1.000 batting average in game one, Aldridge led off the inning with an outfield single, and was sacrifice bunted over to second base by Scoggins. One out later, back-to-back walks to Flair and Alfonzo loaded the bases, and it was Townsend who drew a bases-loaded walk to score Aldridge. An Eckerd error on the next play then allowed Flair and Alfonzo to score, forcing a seven-run lead and a 13-5 victory.
The second game of the afternoon featured much more offense, on both sides of the scoreboard. In the top of the first inning, the Tritons jumped on the scoreboard, forcing an early lead with two runs on three hits and a UT error.
Tampa responded quickly, however, rallying for six runs in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Scoggins jumpstarted the inning with a walk, and quickly took second base on a passed ball. Alfonzo then singled through the left side, advancing Scoggins to third, and the following double from Flair allowed Alfonzo to take third and Scoggins to cross the plate. With runners on the corners, an outfield single from deNoyelles scored Alfonso and again gave the Spartans two base-runners. One out later, Tindall took first base on a hit-by-pitch and loaded the bases, setting the stage for senior Brett Jones, who blasted a homerun in the first game of the day. Stepping to the plate, Jones again came up big, sending a grand slam homerun over the right-field fence.
With the Spartans leading 6-2 heading into the second, the Tritons got their offense going, scoring four runs on two hits to tie the score. In the bottom of the inning, however, Tampa scored two of their own thanks to a solo homer from Scoggins and an Eckerd error that allowed Flair to score.
The Spartans tacked on another in the bottom of the third on a Scoggins RBI, and Eckerd responded with one in the top of the fourth.
Despite the Tritons scoring a run in the top of the sixth, Tampa came back in the bottom of the inning to pick up two runs on a homerun from Brett Jones, his third of the day.
The seventh and eighth innings featured more offensive rallies for the Spartans, as the home team combined for eight more runs on RBI from Townsend, Jones, Ty Cooler, Zion Bell, Alfonzo and a 3-RBI homerun off the bat of Tindall.
At the close of the eighth inning, the Spartans led the visiting Tritons by a 21-8 score; a score that would not change throughout the ninth.
Senior lefty Chase Sparkman got the start for Tampa in game two of the doubleheader, tossing 5.1 innings and striking out five in 28 batters faced. The lefty allowed ten hits and one walk.
Junior lefty Michael Calkins appeared in relief in the sixth and seventh innings, allowing no runs on one hit and striking out one. Junior Conner Andrews closed out the eighth and ninth innings, throwing two complete and allowing no Tritons to reach base.
On the day, the No. 2 Spartans offense recorded a total of 34 hits and 32 runs. In game two, every starter recorded a hit, and Tampa tallied 14 extra-base hits.
The No. 2 Spartans will wrap up the Sunshine State Conference series on Sunday when they host Eckerd College for the third and final game. First pitch for the single contest is slated for 1 p.m. at UT Baseball Field on the campus of the University of Tampa. Live stats will be available through Tampa.Statbroadcast.com.
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