Big Innings Doom Bucs In Loss to Patriots

Anthony Westbrook (Photo by Roy Allen)
Anthony Westbrook (Photo by Roy Allen)
OCALA, Fla.- The Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers held the #3 Central Florida Patriots to runs in just two innings in Friday's FCSAA State Tournament opener in Ocala, but unfortunately for the Bucs, those two innings were a six run 3rd and a five run 8th to give the Patriots an 11-3 run rule win in game one of a best of three series between the two. 
Things couldn't have gotten off to much of a better start for the Bucs as Sergio Rivera singled on the first pitch of the game and scored two pitches later on a triple from AJ Shaver to give FSW a quick 1-0 lead. Three pitches later Anthony Westbrook lifted a fly ball deep enough to center to score Shaver from third for a sac fly to make it 2-0 Bucs after a half innings of action. 
Central Florida loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 1st, but a 6-4-3 double play got the Bucs out of the threat and kept it a 2-0 game at the end of one. 
All was good for the Bucs until the 3rd when things went very wrong.  The first five Patriots of the bottom of the 3rd reached base including back to back singles to tie the game and a double to the gap to put Central Florida ahead 3-2. They weren't done yet though as an FSW error allowed two more runs to score and a sixth run of the innings came home on a two out single to make it 6-2 Patriots at the end of three.  
Bucs reliever Henry Hardie kept the Patriots in check the next two innings with 1-2-3 frames in the 4th and 5th , but the FSW offense couldn't get anything going as it remained a 6-2 game into the 6th. 
FSW finally got something going with the bats in the 6th as their first three hitters of the frame singled, but a pick off at first slowed the rally and meant that instead of the bases loaded and nobody out, it was two on with one out in the inning.  A walk to Albert Serrano loaded the bases and a two out walk forced home a run to make it 6-3 and put the tying runs on base for the heart of the FSW order. But a call to the bullpen for the Patriots gave them some relief as a strikeout ended the threat and kept Central Florida in front 6-3. 
It looked as if the game was going to head to the 9th with the score still 6-3 as Central Florida was up with nobody on and two out in the bottom of the 8th with the game still in reach for the Bucs, but a pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases before back to back hits drove in two runs each to quickly make it a 10-3 game.  A walk put runners on the corners and a single to left brought the game to an end as the Patriots kicked in the run rule, winning it 11-3 in eight.  
The Bucs had nine hits in the loss, led by Nate Earley who reached base in all four plate appearances with a 3-3 day and a walk.  Rivera and Joel Gardner both had a pair of hits as well in the loss.  Tyler Kennedy was collared with the loss on the mound for the Bucs, allowing five hits and six runs in 2 1/3 innings of work to drop to 4-5 on the year. Hardie was the Bucs most effective reliever, going 2 2/3 innings of hitless baseball, striking out a pair. 
FSW falls to 31-21 with the loss while Central Florida improves to 47-6. 
The Bucs season is on the line Saturday when the two teams meet at 1 PM in game two of the best of three series while Central Florida will try to punch their ticket to Lakeland to defend their title.