LAKELAND - Florida Southern opened a three-game weekend series here Friday evening by dropping a 7-6 decision to Palm Beach Atlantic in non-conference action at Henley Field.
The Moccasins, who trailed 5-3 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, rallied to score three runs in seventh to take a 6-5 lead, but they couldn't hold onto to the lead as the Sailfish scored single runs in the eighth and ninth to seal its victory.
With the setback, the Mocs fall 7-7 overall on the season, while PBA improved to 5-6 on the year.
PBA used two singles, a double play grounder and wild pitch from junior hurler Brady Arenson (Glenview, Ill.) to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
The Mocs, though, would tie the game in the bottom of the second thanks to a one-out triple from junior first baseman Blake Swann (Live Oak, Fla.) and an RBI groundout off the bat of junior designated hitter Dominic Brugnoni (St. Clair Shores, Mich.).
PBA's retook the lead in the third inning thanks thanks to a lead-off triple by Jorge Bravo, a sacrifice fly from Pat Kane and a solo home run over the fence in right field off of Arenson by Chris Farrell.
The Sailfish's lead grew to 5-1 in the fourth innings as they scored two unearned runs without the benefit of a hit. In the inning, the first two PBA batters reached after getting hit by a pitch and walking and they scored their first run on a fielding error on a fielder's choice grounder by senior third baseman Chris Dennis (Rockledge, Fla.) and added a second run later in the frame of a sacrifice fly.
FSC, though, would pull within 5-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning thanks to a lead-off triple from Dennis, a walk issued to Brugnoni and an RBI single down the right field line by junior second baseman Shawn Sanders (Citra, Fla.) off of PBA starting pitcher Josh Turner.
The Mocs would draw a run closer to PBA in the sixth inning thanks to a walk and back-to-back singles from Sanders and senior catcher Joey Miller, the latter single allowed Brugnoni to score FSC's third run of the game. Brugnoni had reached earlier in the inning on a fielder's choice grounder that chased Turner from the game.
FSC was able to stay in the game thanks to Arenson's pitching as after allowing the fielder's choice in the fourth inning by Jake Summey, Arenson would retire the next 13 Sailfish batters in order before allowing a one-out single in the eight to Farrell.
The Mocs helped Arenson out in the bottom of the seventh as they scored three runs on four hits to take a 6-5 lead. In the inning, senior leftfielder Kyle Richards (Groton, Conn.) led off the frame with an infield single and would score when the next Moccasin hitter, junior centerfielder Sam Machonis (Tampa, Fla.) hit a triple to right center to push FSC within a run a 5-4. Dennis would tie game on an RBI groundout and the Mocs would take the lead on an RBi single by Brugnoni that allowed Swann to score from second after reaching on a two-out double to left center off PBA reliever Sean Horner.
Arenson pitched 7.2 innings and allowed eight hits and six runs (four earned runs), while walking two and fanning seven in his 118-pitch outing.
The Sailfish, though, wouldn't go away as they used three single and a wild pitch from Arenson to tie the game at 6-all.
FSC had a chance to retake the lead in the bottom of the eighth as they put two runners on base with one out thanks to a walk and a hit batsman, but the Mocs would leave both runners stranded as Eric Russell retired the next two Mocs in order to leave the game tied.
In the ninth inning, senior reliever Casey Eskew (Sarasota, Fla.) would allow a lead-off double to Jason Webb, who would score the go-ahead run one batter later as Bravo singled past a drawn in Moccasin infield to score the game's seventh run and take a 7-6 lead. Eskew, though, would prevent further damage as he retired the next three Sailfish batters in order to end in the inning.
Eskew (0-1) took the loss for the Mocs as he pitched the 1.1 innings and allowed two hits and one run.
Brugnoni would reach on a two-out double in the ninth, but would be left there at second as Rusell forced Sanders to grund out to third to end the game.
Russell (1-0), who was the fourth Sailfish pitcher of the game, tossed two innings and allowed one hit, while striking out two and walking one.
On the night, the Moccasin offense recorded 11 hits, including six extra base hits. Four Mocs finished the game with two hits, including Brugnoni going 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs, while Dennis, Swann and Sanders also had two hits in the victory.
Dennis, Swann and Brugnoni each recorded doubles, while Dennis, Swann and Machonis each had a triple.
Farrell, Bravo and Brian Walker each had two hits for the Sailfish in the win. As a team, PBA recorded four extra base knocks in the game.
The two teams will close out the weekend series with a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 28 at Henley Field beginning at 1 p.m.