CLEARWATER, FLA.- Just when it looked like their fairytale season was headed in the wrong direction, the #15 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers turned the tide and have now won four in a row to work themselves back into a three way tie for first place in the Suncoast Conference standings. Wednesday night the Bucs brought home an 8-3 win over St. Petersburg in the series opener behind seven strong innings from Rafael Santos and three RBI's apiece from Nathan Kinsch and Jose Marcano.
The Bucs put constant pressure on the Titans all night on Wednesday, getting a two run home run from Jose Marcano in the second to put them up 2-0 early and adding runs on a pair of sacrifice flies in the third and fourth to open up a 4-1 advantage.
Starter Rafael Santos kept the Bucs right there, retiring nine in a row through the middle innings.
FSW rewarded their southpaw with two more runs in the sixth, getting an RBI single from Marcano and an RBI double from Nathan Kinsch four pitches later to make it a 6-1 game.
Santos got the Bucs through seven with a 6-1 lead and then cushioned it to 8-1 in the top of the eighth when Kinsch and Shamir Morales banged back to back two out RBI doubles.
St. Pete got a pair back in the bottom of the eighth, put that would be all they could muster against the Bucs bullpen as Derek Rascher finished it off for FSW in the ninth to secure the 8-3 victory.
The Bucs banged out 11 hits, led by Marcano and Kinsch who combined to go 5 for 7 with six RBI's in the win. Victor Florentino and Morales also recorded multi-hit games. Santos dominated on the mound for seven innings, scattering six hits and allowing just one run for his fourth win of the year.
The FSW win creates a log jam at the top of the Suncoast Conference standings. The Bucs are now square in the middle of a three way tie for the top spot at 14-8, knotted up with Hillsborough and State College of Florida with eight games remaining. FSW improves to 33-11 overall with the win. The loss was a crucial one for St. Petersburg who now faces a four game mountain to get back into the playoff picture as they fall to 10-12 in league action and 17-23 overall.
The Bucs and the Titans will see each other two more times, both at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers on Friday and Saturday to wrap up the season series. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6 PM with Saturday's start a 1 PM matinee.