MELBOURNE – With third baseman Alexus Smith doing a large share of the damage on offense, and Rachel Pence and Amanda Kahn doing all of the work in the pitcher's circle, Florida Tech pulled off a doubleheader sweep of Florida Southern Friday afternoon with a 2-1, 10-inning win in the opener and a 4-0 victory in the nightcap.
Smith drove in the winning run with one of her two hits in game one and then went 2-for-2 with a walk and one RBI in the next one. The Panthers (33-11, 11-3 Sunshine State Conference) also limited the Moccasins (11-24-1, 3-10-1) to one run on 13 hits in the doubleheader to extend their winning streak to eight games even while Florida Southern juniors Brandi Jones and Hannah Loyer were holding the Panthers to four earned runs in 16 innings of their own work.
It was Florida Southern that scored first in the first game of Friday's doubleheader, using two singles and a walk to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Freshman Zierra Flodman had the Mocs' first hit of the inning with a leadoff single and freshman Jessica Trana followed with a walk. Both players were bunted into scoring position and a base hit by junior Dana Mackiewicz drove in Flodman for the first run.
The Panthers were held to just two hits through the first five innings by Jones but turned one of them into the tying run. Elaine Brown led off the bottom of the fourth with a single, stole second and was bunted to third by Krista Patterson. From there Brown scored on a fly ball hit by cleanup batter Nicole Shinsky.
Both teams had chances to score in the sixth inning but neither did so. The Moccasins got their opportunity after a walk by Trana and a single by sophomore Ashlyn Worcester gave them runners at the corners with two out. Pence got Mackiewicz to pop up on the infield though to end the threat.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Panthers received a 1-out double from Smith only to leave her at second after back-to-back fly ball outs, one of them caught by junior leftfielder Erin Klein on the run in very shallow left center. The Panthers also wasted a leadoff single by Shinsky in the bottom of the seventh when Jones came back from a 3-0 count on Hailey Leonard to strike out the SSC home run and RBI leader. Two more fly balls followed and the game was on to extra innings.
The first of those extra frames saw each team leave two runners on base. For the Moccasins it was junior Erica Morrissey and Flodman, who had singled and were at first and third with one out. For the Panthers it was Karina Suicova and Brown who had singled and were stranded at first and second.
Two innings later, a leadoff single by Ashley Montion led to Florida Tech's winning run in the tenth. After a passed ball moved her to second, Kaitlin Buchholz put down a sacrifice that moved her to third. Buchholz also reached when the ball was mishandled for an error and stole second to put Panthers at second and third with none out. When the Panthers tried to squeeze in the run with another bunt, senior catcher Jordan Alexander pounced on the ball right in front of the plate and tagged Montion before she could slide home safely. That fielder's choice though allowed Buchholz to take third and she scored soon after when Smith singled sharply into leftfield.
That hit spoiled a fantastic effort by Jones, who gave up two runs on eight hits, struck out six and walked one but fell to 5-11 on the season. It was Jones' fifth straight start allowing two earned runs or less, but her fourth loss during that span despite a 1.71 ERA. She's given up two earned runs or less in 13 of her 17 starts this season.
Pence picked up her 25th win of the season for Florida Tech against eight losses. The Moccasins reached her for nine hits, including a career-high three by Flodman, but could score only one run against her while leaving 10 runners on base. Pence struck out six and walked two.
Florida Tech took control of game two by scoring single runs in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings to build a 4-0 lead. Doubles by Buchholz in the second and Shinsky in the third turned into the first two runs, though each of them later scored on 2-out errors.
In the fourth inning the Panthers used three singles to score their next run, with Shinsky's 2-out hit driving it in. Their final run came across when Buchholz started the fifth with a triple down the line in left and touched the plate on a squeeze bunt by Smith.
Kahn kept the Moccasins off the scoreboard in the nightcap by allowing two hits through five innings, striking out one and walking no one to improve to 7-3 on the season. Pence pitched the final two innings and also gave up two hits with one strikeout and no walks.
Alexander had two of the Moccasins' four hits from leadoff spot in the batting order, while Worcester and Trana had the others.
Loyer fell to 2-6, giving up four runs (only two earned) on 11 hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
The teams will wrap up their 3-game series on Saturday with the final game being moved to 11 a.m. to avoid expected rain later in the day.