Pioneers Edge Bucs Late to Even Series

Aries Samek (Photo by Linwood Ferguson/
Aries Samek (Photo by Linwood Ferguson/
FORT PIERCE, Fla.- A valiant effort out of the bullpen by Yehoshua Garcia wasn't enough for the Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers on Friday as they were edged late by the Indian River State Pioneers 8-7 to even the two teams Southern Conference series at a game a piece on the opening week of conference play. 
The game started with a bang for the Bucs as Sergio Rivera homered on the fourth pitch of the game to give FSW a quick 1-0 lead.  
The lead didn't last long though as Indian River answered right back in the bottom of the 1st, scoring four times to take their first lead of the game at 4-1. 
For the second straight inning, the Pioneers first three hitters of the 2nd reached base and a sacrifice fly made it a 5-1 game at the end of two. 
Joel Gardner knocked two in for the Bucs in the 3rd with a single to right to get them back to within two, but Indian River responded right away again with two of their own to make it 7-3 after three.  
The Bucs had a golden opportunity to get back into the game in the 4th as they loaded the bases with one out, but they settled for just one run on a sac fly from AJ Shaver to cut the Pioneers lead to 7-4 after 3 1/2. 
Yehoshua Garcia came in out of the Bucs bullpen and worked quick 1-2-3 innings in the 4th and 5th to keep FSW in it and they did just that as Gardner drove in his second run of the game to make it 7-5 before Anthony Westbrook followed suit later in the inning to get the Bucs back to within one and a passed ball leveled things up at 7. 
Garcia continued his dominance in the 6th and 7th , facing the minimum to keep it a 7-7 game, but the Bucs offense couldn't reward their lefthander as the game went to the 8th deadlocked at 7. 
Indian River finally broke through with two outs in the 8th as a 12 pitch at bat ended in a run scoring single to put the Pioneers back in front 8-7. 
The Pioneers slammed the door in the 9th as the Bucs went down in order with Indian River tying up the series at a game a piece with an 8-7 win. 
The Bucs outhit the Pioneers 13-10 in the defeat as Shaver and Eddie-Boe Rodriguez finished with three hits a piece while Gardner drove in three in the losing effort.  Garcia was the hard luck loser, going 4 1/3 innings and allowing just two hits and one run while striking out five to fall to 0-1 on the year. 
FSW falls to 16-10 overall and 1-1 in Southern Conference play with the loss while Indian River improves to 15-8 overall.  
The Bucs and Pioneers will play for the series on Saturday at Buccaneers Park in Fort Myers with first pitch scheduled for 2 PM.