FORT MYERS, FLA.- For the first time this season, the #10 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers were swept, falling 5-4 in extra innings to State College of Florida Wednesday night at City of Palms Park to drop to 29-11 on the year.
It was an inauspicious start for FSW as the first pitch of the game got ripped for a double and two hits and an error later, State College of Florida had a 2-0 lead. The Bucs escaped further damage as starter Rafael Santos induced a 4-6-3 double play with the bases loaded and one out to get out of the inning, keeping it a 2-0 game.
The Bucs got something working in the bottom half of the first, loading the bases with one out, but couldn't push a run across after a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning with the score 2-0 in favor of the Manatees.
The play of the game came with one out in the top of the second when FSW left fielder Tommy Joseph tracked a ball to the wall before making a leaping catch as he crashed against the fence to keep it a 2-0 game.
FSW threatened again in the second, putting two on, but for the second straight frame, couldn't come through with the big hit and remained down 2-0 after two.
The Bucs finally broke through in the third as Tommy Joseph walked to lead off the inning ahead of a Connor Bagnieski blast to deep right center field that went for a ground rule double to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Victor Florentino lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score Joseph from third to cut the Manatee lead in half at 2-1, but Bagnieski was thrown out at third trying to steal and a fly ball to the outfield put an end to the threat and kept it a 2-1 game.
Joseph made his second spectacular play of the game to start the fourth, going over the short wall in left to make a catch to lead to Santos' third straight goose egg to keep it a 2-1 game after 3 ½.
The Bucs received a couple of gifts from SCF in the bottom of the fourth with a walk and a hit batter to start the inning and then a passed ball to move the runners up to second and third with nobody out. An error on the infield allowed a run to score to tie the game at two before a double steal netted them their first lead of the game at 3-2.
Marc Davis got the Bucs out of big trouble in the sixth, wiggling out of a bases loaded, no out jam with a pair of strikeouts and a lineout to keep SCF off the board and FSW up 3-2.
The Bucs had another golden opportunity to add onto the lead in the sixth as they loaded the bases for the middle of the order, but they couldn't come up with the big hit and remained on top just 3-2 after six complete.
The Manatees tied the score at three in the top of the seventh, getting a leadoff double and a one out triple to the wall in right for the equalizer. However, Mason Adams came in out of the FSW bullpen to put out the fire from there, preventing any more damage and keeping the game knotted at three.
SCF looked like they were primed to take the lead back in the eighth with two on and one out, but a strikeout and a caught stealing on the bases ended the threat and kept things tied at three.
A scoreless ninth meant it was extra innings for the Bucs and Manatees for the third time in six games against each other this season.
FSW couldn't capitalize on a tailor made double play ball in the top of the 10th and it cost them dearly. One batter later the Manatees got a single down the line to score a run and added another unearned run later in the inning on a sac fly to make it a 5-3 game.
The Bucs did what they do best in the bottom half of the 10th, drawing back to back walks to put the tying runs on base with nobody out. A well placed sacrifice bunt attempt then forced an errant SCF throw and just like that the bases were loaded with nobody out in the inning. A groundball brought one run home and pushed the tying run 90 feet away from home, but a strikeout and a first pitch groundout ended the threat and the game, giving State College of Florida a 5-4 win to sweep the series.
FSW was outhit 9-7 on the night and committed four big errors, allowing SCF to score three unearned runs in the loss. The Bucs left 13 runners on, all coming from the first six spots in their order. Tommy Joseph and Shamir Morales each had two hits in the defeat. Adams suffered the tough luck loss on the mound, allowing two unearned runs in three inning of work to fall to 4-1 on the year.
The Bucs drop their third straight for the first time all season to fall to 29-11 overall and 10-8 in Suncoast Conference play. SCF continues their recent hot streak, improving to 28-13 overall and 12-6 to take a stronghold on the conference lead.
FSW will look to get back on the winning track this weekend as they play a home and home with South Florida State on Friday and Saturday. The Bucs will travel to Avon Park Friday for a 3 PM start before returning home to City of Palms Park for a 1 PM first pitch on Saturday.