Late Game Heroics Lead Bucs to Sweep of Daytona

Victor Figueroa (Photo by William Parmeter)
Victor Figueroa (Photo by William Parmeter)
FORT MYERS, Fla.- The Florida SouthWestern Buccaneers kept a big crowd on the edge of their seats Saturday afternoon at Buccaneers Park in Fort Myers, coming from behind in both ends of a Citrus Conference doubleheader with three runs in the 5th inning of a 4-2 game one win and a walk off single from Justin Thomas in the bottom of the 9th in a 10-9 win in game two over the visiting Daytona State Falcons. 
The Bucs played catch up from the start right away in game one as Daytona came out swinging, plating a pair of 1st inning runs to take an early 2-0 lead on the Bucs. 
FSW got a run back in the bottom of the 1st as Victor Figueroa launched a solo home run to dead center field to cut the Falcons lead in half to 2-1 after an inning of play. 
Some slick defense from both sides in the 3rd kept it a 2-1 game as Salvador Alvarez gunned down a runner trying to steal in the top half and Daytona spun a double play to erase a Bucs runner in the bottom half of the frame. 
The Bucs offense finally woke up in the 5th as Alvarez doubled to start the inning and came around to score on a two run single from Nate Earley to give FSW their first lead of the game at 3-2. Later in the inning Michael McAloose brought home another run with a perfectly placed bunt to pad the Bucs lead to 4-2 at the end of five. 
Daytona put their leadoff man on for the fourth straight inning in the top of the 6th , but FSW reliever Ryan Grzesiak worked out of a bases loaded jam later in the inning to keep the Bucs ahead 4-2. 
FSW couldn't add any insurance in the bottom of the 6th as they left the bases loaded themselves, but they wouldn't need any as Grzesiak stranded a pair of Falcon runners in the 7th to close things out and give the Bucs a 4-2 victory to clinch the series win. 
Earley finished 2-4 with a double and two RBIs to lead the Bucs offense while McAloose was 2-3 with an RBI.  Figueroa reached three times, going 1-2 with a homer and a pair of walks in the victory. Jordan Huskey worked around six hits in five innings pitched to earn his fifth win of the season while Grzesiak spun a pair of scoreless frames to earn his second save of the season. 
The Bucs came out swinging in game two as Justin Thomas launched the first pitch of the bottom of the 1st inning deep and out to left for a solo home run to give FSW a quick 1-0 lead after one. 
The Bucs lead didn't last long though as Daytona answered right back with a pair of runs in the top of the 2nd to take their first lead of the contest at 2-1.  
The back and forth continued in the bottom of the 2nd as a two out Daytona error allowed the FSW half of the frame to continue and Thomas made the Falcons pay with a three run bomb to left center after the miscue to put FSW back in front 4-2 after two. 
The last place Falcons continued to fight though as they put a pair on to begin their half of the 3rd before a double scored one and a home run behind it plated three more to erase the Bucs lead and put Daytona in front once again at 6-4. 
Earley doubled to begin the FSW 3rd and looked like he was going to be stranded, but a pair of dropped fly balls from the Daytona infield allowed him to trot home to get the Bucs back to within one at 6-5 at the end of three entertaining innings of action. 
A leadoff walk by Bucs pitching for the third straight inning came back to bite FSW once again in the 4th as Daytona pushed a run across to up their lead to 7-5. 
Free passes put the Bucs behind the eight ball again in the 5th but an outstanding defensive play from McAloose and Alvarez to erase a runner at the plate helped FSW get out of a jam and kept it a 7-5 game midway through. 
The defensive momentum carried over to the plate for the Bucs in the 5th as Alvarez ripped an RBI single to get FSW back to within one and Figueroa greeted the Daytona bullpen with a three run moonshot on the first pitch he saw to put the Bucs back on top 9-7.  
Josiah Velazquez put up a huge zero for the Bucs in the top of the 6th to keep it a 9-7 game but FSW found themselves in trouble in the 7th as Daytona loaded the bases with one out before a hit batter forced a run home to make it a one run game at 9-8. With the tying run 90 feet away and the go ahead run in scoring position, Bucs reliever Brandon Gonsalves induced a huge 4-6-3 double play ball to get the Bucs out of a jam and keep FSW in front by one, 9-8 at stretch time. 
Daytona loaded the bases for the second straight inning in the 8th and once again couldn't come through with the big hit as the Bucs clung to a 9-8 lead at the end of eight complete innings of action. 
A leadoff walk for the Bucs came back to haunt them in the top of the 9th as a two out double from Daytona cashed the freebie in, tying the game at 9. 
The Bucs used some small ball to put pressure on Daytona in the bottom of the 9th as Cooper Clapp slapped a single back up the middle and Jared Davis and John Long used surgically placed bunts to reach and load the bases with nobody out in the inning.  The Falcons went to a five man infield and it paid off with a pop out on the infield for the first out of the inning, but Thomas wasn't done with his career game just yet as he ripped a single through the left side of the drawn in infield for the game winner as Clapp trotted home and the celebration for the Bucs ensued with FSW winning game two 10-9 to complete the three game series sweep. 
Thomas led a 15 hit attack for FSW, going 3-6 with two home runs and five RBIs while Clapp finished 3-5 with a pair of runs scored and Figueroa was 2-4 with a homer and three RBIs in the win.  Gonsalves gutted out his second three inning outing in three days to earn the win and improve to 5-2 on the year on the mound for FSW. 
The sweep takes the Bucs to 24-14 overall and 15-6 in Citrus Conference play on the season where they remain in first place at the end of seven conference series. Daytona remains in the conference cellar as they fall to 13-20 overall and 5-16 in league play. 
The Bucs are back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Clearwater to take on St. Petersburg in a non-conference contest before beginning a big three game conference series Thursday on the road at Santa Fe.