WINTER HAVEN, FLA.- In sports, all coaches ask is for players to be ready when their number is called. Jesse Ferreira was just that Saturday afternoon for the #13 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers, as he was called upon to pitch out of the bullpen for just the second time this season and rose to the occasion, throwing four shutout innings, striking out seven to allow the Bucs to come away with a key 7-3 win over Polk State to move to within two victories of their first conference title in program history.
The Bucs fell behind early on as Polk banged a two out RBI double in the first to take a quick 1-0 lead after one.
FSW looked like they were going to answer in the third when they loaded the bases for the middle of their lineup, but they couldn't come through with the big hit and left the sacks packed, remaining behind 1-0 at the end of three.
The Bucs loaded the bases again in the fourth and took advantage of an Eagle error to score two runs and take their first lead of the game at 2-1.
Polk answered right back though, getting two straight hits to start the bottom half of the inning before scoring the equalizer on a wild pitch to knot the score up at two.
The back and forth battle continued in the top of the fifth as Drake Dobyanski smashed a double to get the inning started and later scored on an RBI single from Warnner Rincones to put the Bucs back ahead 3-2. This time they didn't stop there though as later in the frame Jose Marcano ripped an RBI single and Nathan Kinsch lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score another, giving the Bucs a 5-2 lead midway through.
In came Jesse Ferreira out of the FSW bullpen and he was locked in. Ferreira worked a quick 1-2-3 inning in the fifth and the Bucs extended upon their lead in their next at bats on RBI's from Mikey Burke and Rincones to make it a 7-2 game.
Ferreira did the rest from there. He sat down the side in both the sixth and seventh for the Bucs and put up his fourth straight zero in the eighth to keep FSW on top 7-2.
The Bucs couldn't add any more insurance on the offensive end, but it didn't matter as Polk managed just a lone tally in their final at bats in the ninth, giving FSW a 7-3 victory in the series opener.
FSW outhit Polk 10-7 and went wild on the bases with 11 stolen bases in the win. Dobyanski, Burke, Marcano, and Victor Florentino each had two hits for the Bucs while Rincones drove two in for the victors. Ferreira was spectacular out of the Buccaneer bullpen, throwing four scoreless innings, retiring the first 11 hitters he faced in the middle innings while striking out seven. Joey Mugavero earned the win, finishing the fourth inning before the Bucs took the lead to improve to 2-0 on the year.
The Bucs have won 9 of their past 10 to improve to 38-12 overall and 19-9 in Suncoast Conference play where they sit in a tie with State College of Florida with two games remaining in the regular season. Polk falls to 24-27 overall and 11-17 in conference play.
FSW returns home to the friendly confines of City of Palms Park one final time on Monday when they will host the Eagles on Sophomore Night at the park. The Bucs will honor their 11 sophomores with a pregame ceremony beginning approximately 10 minutes before the scheduled 6 PM first pitch.