All Bucs In Regional Opener Against Santa Fe

Landen Burch (Photo by Roy Allen)
Landen Burch (Photo by Roy Allen)
FORT MYERS, Fla.- Landen Burch fired six shutout innings and Victor Figueroa drove in three runs as the Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers defeated the Santa Fe Saints 8-1 in the opening game of the Fort Myers Regional at Buccaneers Park on Friday. 
It was a pitcher's dual early on between the Bucs and Saints as FSW's Landen Burch and Santa Fe's Matthew Jenkins matched zeros through the first three innings with Jenkins holding the Bucs without a hit and Burch retiring eight in a row after a pair of Santa Fe hits in the 1st. 
The Bucs got on the board first in the 4th as Justin Thomas was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning to get things going and later scored on a two run double from Jared Davis to give FSW a 2-0 lead.  Later in the inning Cooper Clapp lifted a sacrifice fly to right to plate the Bucs third run of the inning to make it 3-0 Buccaneers at the end of four innings of action. 
Burch fired a quick 1-2-3 top of the 5th with a pair of strikeouts and came up with another big punchout to get out of a mini jam in the 6th to keep FSW in front 3-0. 
FSW had a chance to put the game away in the bottom of the 6th as they loaded the bases with nobody out, but they managed just one run as a pair of strikeouts foiled the big inning as they padded their lead to 4-0 at the end of six. 
The Bucs went to the bullpen in the 7th and Nate Ward came out and fired a big 1-2-3 frame to send the game to stretch time with the Bucs in front 4-0. 
The Bucs continued to build on their lead in the 7th, getting an RBI single to left from Victor Figueroa with one out to make it 5-0 after seven complete. 
Santa Fe finally broke through in the 8th , taking advantage of back to back FSW walks to begin the inning to score their first run, but a double play and a strikeout thwarted any further damage to keep the Bucs in front 5-1 after 7 1/2. 
The Bucs put the game away in the 8th as they loaded the bases with one out before Figueroa lined a single back up the middle to bring home two followed by the Saints second error of the inning to allow another run to score and up the Bucs lead to 8-1 as the teams went to the 9th. 
Ward came back out for his third inning of work in the 9th and locked it down, retiring the Saints in order including a highlight reel play by FCSAA Defensive Player of the Year Salvador Alvarez in foul territory to close it out as the Bucs took game one 8-1. 
Burch put together his best start of the season, going six shutout innings, allowing just three hits while striking out eight to earn the win and improve to 5-3 on the year. Ward threw three innings, allowing just one hit and one run to earn his fourth save of the year. Figueroa led the offense, going 2-5 with three RBIs while Davis also recorded a multi-hit game, going 2-3 with the Bucs lone extra base hit of the game and a pair of RBIs.  
FSW wins their third straight to improve to 36-19 on the year while Santa Fe falls to 31-21. 
The teams will hook up again on Saturday in game two at Buccaneers Park with first pitch moved up to a 1 PM start due to forecasted weather later in the day. A win would send FSW onto the FCSAA State Tournament Final Four next week in Tampa and end the Saints season while a Santa Fe win would push the series to a deciding third game on Sunday in Fort Myers.