Bucs Drop Back and Forth Battle In State Semis

Sydney McCray (Photo by Simone Amaduzzi)
Sydney McCray (Photo by Simone Amaduzzi)
CLEARWATER, Fla.- The #3 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers run at a second straight FCSAA State Championship came to an end Thursday night under the lights in Clearwater as they were unable to overcome a late push by the #7 Indian River State Pioneers in a 9-6 loss in the State Semifinals. 
For the second straight game, the Bucs fell behind right off the bat as Indian River scored without a hit in the top of the 1st to take an early 1-0 lead.  
The Bucs answered right away, putting two on with two out ahead of a two run single from Skylar Brennan to put them ahead for the first time at 2-1. 
The lead didn't last long as a leadoff double for Indian River set the table for the Pioneers and they brought the run in on a fielder's choice later in the frame to tie the game at 2. 
Ella Moore continued to swing her red hot bat with a triple to lead off the FSW 2nd and she scored on an Indian River error to put the Bucs back ahead 3-2 after two. 
The back and forth affair continued in the 3rd as once again a leadoff double by Indian River turned into a run to level the score at 3 and for the first time in the game the Bucs went scoreless in the bottom half of the inning to keep the score 3-3 at the end of three. 
FSW reliever Emily Allegood came in out of the bullpen to put up the Bucs first zero of the game in the 4th and then helped herself in the bottom half of the inning, drilling a solo home run out to center to lead off the inning and put FSW back in front 4-3. 
The turning point of the game came in the 5th as Indian River had a couple of balls with eyes on them, combined with a couple of tough hops against the Bucs defense to score four times and retake a 7-4 lead after 4 ½ innings of action. 
Indian River kept the pressure on the Bucs in the 6th , drawing three walks to load the bases before back to back singles brought home runs to extend their lead to 9-4. 
The Bucs had a chance to get back in the game in the bottom of the 6th as they put two on with two out ahead of an RBI single up the middle from Sydney McCray to score one, but a spectacular defensive play by Indian River brought the inning to a close with two ducks on the pond to keep the Pioneers in front 9-5 into the 7th. 
Down to their final three outs in the 7th , the Bucs were able to get the tying run to the on deck circle, but they couldn't bring it to the plate as a foul out brought the game to an end with Indian River taking the win 9-6. 
The Bucs were outhit 14-8 in the game. Allegood finished 2-4 with her 4th inning homer while Moore and Virginia Mambelli also each had two hits in the defeat. D'Yani McKinley didn't record a hit, but reached three times and stole a pair of bases for FSW at the top of the order. Allegood took the loss in the circle, allowing six hits and four runs in 2 1/3 innings pitched to fall to 7-1 on the year. 
The Bucs hopes for back to back state titles is dashed as they fall to 53-7 on the year while Indian River hits the 50 win mark where they will take a 50-9 mark into Friday's State Championship Game against #2 Northwest Florida. 
FSW will now try to work their way back in the NJCAA South Atlantic District B bracket to punch their ticket to the NJCAA World Series. Their road begins Friday at 1 PM when they take on #11 Gulf Coast at Eddie C Moore Park in Clearwater.