July 15, 2019
FORT MYERS, Fla.- After just three short years of competition, three of the four FSW Athletics programs had already claimed their place atop the Suncoast Conference hierarchy, bringing home at least one conference championship in their respective sport. In year four, the fourth team joined the club, which brings us our #5 moment of the Bucs' 2018-19 year, Baseball claiming their first Suncoast Conference title, on the last day of the regular season to boot.
The Bucs raced to an 11-0 start to the season to announce that in 2019, they were going to be a force to be reckon with. By the time conference play started, FSW was 18-3 and received their first rankings in the NJCAA poll in program history. But the task was tall for the de facto 'David' as they began Suncoast Conference action again the state's most historically successful program in State College of Florida. The Bucs wasted little time in asserting their presence, blasting the Manatees 9-1 in the opener before pulling off back to back come from behind victories in the next two games to sweep the series, another program first. The Bucs went on to win their next two series, opening the conference season at 7-2 to grab an early lead in the standings. A bump in the road against Hillsborough brought them back to the pack, but another series win against Polk State saw them close the first half at 10-5 and in first place.
The Bucs' balloon looked like it may have been popped though as they kicked off the second half of play by dropping three close games to SCF to drop all the way from first to third in the conference standings in a matter of five days. But all that did was fuel their fire as FSW went on a tear from there, sweeping series against South Florida State and St. Petersburg to put themselves back in the race. The Bucs split their first two games against Hillsborough late in the second half and in a key game with the Hawks, trailed 6-2 late before roaring back to tie it and then win it 10-6 in extra innings to continue their push for a title. It all came down to the Bucs' final series of the season as they entered their three game set with Polk State tied with SCF and one game in front of Hillsborough who were set to battle it out with each other over the same stretch. In game one Jesse Ferreira saved the Bucs out of the bullpen with seven scoreless innings in a 7-3 win to help them inch closer to a title. In game two the Bucs left no doubt, jumping out to a 5-0 lead and quickly blowing the game open in route to a 10-3 victory over the Eagles. But it all came down to the final game of the regular season for FSW, win and win their first conference championship in program history, lose and settle for a share with SCF. The Bucs found themselves in an early hole on the road, but by the fifth inning, had things tied up at 4. From that point on, they dominated, outscoring Polk 5-1 over the final four innings, getting a lock down performance out of their bullpen from Ryan Gusto and Marc Davis to secure the win and start the party as FSW had clinched its first Suncoast Conference Championship in program history.
The Bucs went on to appear in their first FSCAA State Tournament, falling in a pair of close contests to Santa Fe and Miami Dade, but at the end of the day, FSW set program records for wins in a year with 40 and conference wins in a year with 21 as they finished 40-12.
We will continue our countdown tomorrow with another first, this one brought to you courtesy of the FSW Women's Basketball team.
#4- Revealed July 16th
#3- Revealed July 17th
#2- Revealed July 18th
#1- Revealed July 19th