LIVINGSTON, Ala. - The University of Tampa Spartans baseball team earned a trip to the 2015 National Championship Tournament, Sunday afternoon, after defeating SSC foe Florida Tech by a 5-4 score in the South Region Championship. The berth marks the third-straight trip to the national tournament.
The 10-inning victory also marks the Spartans' 17th NCAA Regional Championship in school history, and the third consecutive for the six-time national champions.
The Spartans scored first in the contest, picking up a run in the top of the first inning to go ahead, 1-0. It was Stephen Dezzi who registered the first RBI of the contest, scoring Andrew Amaro, who led off the inning with a walk.
Tampa led the game by a 1-0 score until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Florida Tech forced a four-run rally and went ahead, 4-1.
After a scoreless sixth, the Spartans' Cody deNoyelles added another run with a solo homer to bring Tampa within two.
Holding the Panthers scoreless in the bottom of the seventh, the Spartans returned in the top of the eighth to tie the game at 4-4. Andrew Amaro led off the inning with a single up the middle, and one out later, Dezzi singled through the right side to give Tampa runners on the corners. Giovanny Alfonzo then singled to left field, scoring Amaro and advancing Dezzi to second. A groundout then pushed both Dezzi and Alfonzo into scoring position, and a wild pitch allowed Dezzi to cross the plate and tie the score.
A scoreless ninth pushed the contest into extra innings, and Tampa capitalized in the top of the tenth. Amaro again led off the inning with a single, and was sent to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Casey Scoggins. Amaro then stole third, putting himself in prime position for the following sacrifice flyout from Dezzi. The RBI put the Spartans ahead, 5-4, and eventually propelled Tampa to a regional title.
The Panthers threatened in the 10th as Dylan Barrow was able to escape a jam with the help of his teammates. With a Panther runner on third and no outs, Barrow notched a strikeout before Casey Scoggins caught a line drive to center, and proceeded to throw out the FIT runner at the plate with Nick Tindall fielding the throw and applying the tag in dramatic fashion.
Junior lefty Kevin Martin started on the mound for the Spartans in the final game of the regional tournament, throwing four innings and allowing just one run on four hits. He struck out two before junior Dylan Barrow appeared for six innings of relief. In Barrow's first outing of the post season, the righty allowed three runs on six hits and struck out six, earning the win.
The Spartans recorded eight hits in the victory, while Dezzi, Alfonzo, and deNoyelles registered RBI.
Tampa placed six players on the NCAA South Regional all-tournament team as Scoggins earned most outstanding player honors. Also on the team were Alfonzo, Barrow, Michael Calkins, deNoyelles and Jones.
Tampa will now head to Cary, N.C. to play in the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament against the West Region Champion, who is still to be determined. The contest is scheduled for Sunday, May 24 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Live stats will be available through Tampa.Statbroadcast.com.
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