Florida Tech is eliminated from the NCAA Division II South Regional Tournament
TAMPA, Fla. (Baseball) – Facing a win-or-go-home situation, No. 20 Florida Tech fell to tournament host and top-seeded No. 2 Tampa, 11-6, on Friday at the UT Baseball Complex to bring the Panthers’ (32-19) season to a close.
The Spartans (41-10) were too much for the Crimson and Gray, scoring 11 runs on 14 hits, while scoring in all but two innings.
“It was a great year,” head coach Greg Berkemeier said. “We were able to accomplish a goal by getting into postseason play. We just weren’t able to go as far as we wanted, obviously. We’re disappointed about that, but we’re very proud of our guys and the effort they showed all year.”
Acting as the visitors because of a pregame coin flip, Tampa immediately got on the board with two runs in the top of the first. After a 1-2-3 bottom of the frame, the Spartans added another run to take a 3-0 lead after two innings.
Tampa added three more runs in the fourth, but Florida Tech finally made a run of its own in the bottom of the inning. Juniors Scott Carcaise and Andrew Bartlett led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and were advanced to second and third on a Kevin Wortman bunt.
Junior Jimmie Koch followed with a triple off the right field wall to score two. An Alex Alfonso sacrifice fly later, the Panthers were back in the hunt.
It took Tampa no time to respond, as the Spartans plated three runs in the following inning. Not ready to go home yet, Florida Tech again responded.
Trailing 9-3 now, the Panthers began the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff single from junior Dan Bodziak. Freshman Austin Allen followed with a one-out single to advance Bodziak to third, and Carcaise grounded out to plate a run. With the bases loaded and two away, Koch followed with his second two RBIs of the game on a single to left field.
That would be the end of the Panthers’ scoring as Tampa plated one in each of the eighth and ninth innings to bring the final to 11-6. UT’s starter Jon Keller worked through the two rocky innings to pitch 8.2 innings and get the victory.
Senior Jason Boyer took the loss for FIT, working 3.1 innings, allowing six runs on just five hits. Seniors Cody Lewis and James Mannara concluded the game in relief.
The loss concluded the season for Florida Tech, which finished the year with 32 victories, including 14 in Sunshine State Conference play. The 14 conference wins were enough to tie the program record, and were enough to push the Panthers into postseason play for the first time in three years.
“Anytime you have a postseason experience, it’s definitely going to help you moving forward,” Berkemeier said. “You know that that’s your end goal. We play in a tough conference, which always gets you prepared, but just getting into this tournament and the immediacy of two and done makes you realize these experiences will do nothing but make the program better.”