ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The second-ranked University of Tampa baseball team concluded its three-game set with the Eckerd College Triton Saturday at the Turley Athletic Complex. The two teams played a tight game in the first with UT pulling out the 5-4 victory late and cruising in the second game by a final of 24-9. The Spartans now improve to 39-7 and 18-3 in Sunshine State Conference. The Tritons now fall to 16-26 overall and 4-17 in the SSC.
With the series sweep, the Spartans now clinch at least a share of the Sunshine State Conference Title.
In game one, the Spartans used late inning heroics to take the 5-4 victory over the Tritons.
UT would get on the board first again in the contest as they scored two runs in the top of the second inning. Chris Gaffney would drive in the first run of the game as the catcher singled to drive in Laz Rivera. Gaffney would then come around to score the second run on a Matt Piatt single to centerfield.
Eckerd would get back into the contest in the bottom of the fourth inning when they executed two hit-and-runs perfectly to score two runs and tie the game back up. EC would then take the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when they scored on a Nick Hill single.
After the two teams were held scoreless in the sixth and seventh inning, UT was able to get back on the board in the eighth inning. After two quick outs in the inning, Laz Rivera would get the rally started with a single into leftfield. Following Rivera, Vin Cosenzo would draw a walk to give UT runners on first and second base. Adrian Chacon would follow Cosenzo with a clutch home run that would just get past the left fielders glove to give the Spartans a 5-3 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Tritons would pull within one run at 5-4, when Hill hit a solo home run out to left field.
In the bottom of the ninth, Tampa was able to catch a break after Eckerd had the tying run on base. Carter Cashman roped a double down the left field line that looked to bring in the game-tying run. While rounding third base Tom Buonopane would be thrown out at home by Cody deNoyelles after Buonopane stumbled down the third base line. Trey Oest would then strike out the next batter to seal the victory for the Spartans.
Kevin Martin earned the victory on the season improving his record to 5-0. The lefty would throw seven innings in the ball game, allowing five hits and striking out three batters.
Oest threw the final two innings, allowing just the one run on four hits. He would also earn his first save of the season.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Spartans released an offensive onslaught as they recorded 22 hits in the 24-9 victory.
Every Spartan starter recorded a hit with Laz Rivera leading the way with a 5-for-6 performance. Rivera recorded the second cycle in program history and the first since 2005 when Roberto Mena hit for one against Florida Southern.
Rivera started the game early for Tampa as he hit a two-run home run in the top of the first inning to ignite the UT seven-run inning.
In the fourth inning, J.D. Osborne hit a three-run bomb out to left field to extend the Tampa lead to 11-4. In the sixth inning, Ricky Negron came on to pinch-hit and took the first pitch he saw to right center field for a three-run homer.
The Spartans concluded its scoring in the eighth inning when they scored five runs on four hits to wrap up the 24 run game.
Michael Calkins came in relief to earn the victory, as the senior threw five innings, striking out five batters and allowing just one run.
The Spartans will be back in action next week as they travel to Winter Park on Thursday and Friday to take on the Rollins College Tars in the regular season finale.
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