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Tampa Athletics | May 17, 2014

No. 1 Tampa downs Alabama-Hunstville to advance to South Region final

  Sean O'Brien roped three hits in the Spartans' 50th win of the season.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Behind a ninth-inning, four-run rally, No. 1 University of Tampa bested the University of Alabama at Huntsville, 9-5, advancing to the NCAA Division II South Region final.

The Spartans ascended to 50-2 on the season while the Chargers concluded the game with a 41-15 record. Tampa has reached 50 wins in a season for just the third time in program history, all under the leadership of head coach Joe Urso. The last two 50-win campaigns came in the 2006 and 2007 which both resulted in national championships.

Giovanny Alfonzo tallied three hits with a run scored and two RBI while Sean O’Brien notched a trio of hits. Tyler Ding contributed a pair of hits with two RBI in the crucial win.

Tampa wasted no time getting on the board, as Ding plated Orlando Rivera with a single to left field. O’Brien would lace a two-bagger to right centerfield to set up a sacrifice fly off the bat of Michael Danner to give Tampa a 2-0 lead.

UAH answered as Ben Hall recorded two RBI to go along after Austin Sanders plated the first Charger run. Huntsville would claim the lead 3-2 after the inning.

The Chargers added an insurance run in the third with a sacrifice fly, giving UAH a two-run lead at 4-2.

Junior Rivera chipped away at the lead in the fifth, scoring Alfonzo on a single through the right side of the infield. Zach Gawrych would tie the game an inning later with a sacrifice fly, scoring O’Brien and knotting the score at four apiece.

Ding broke up the tie in the seventh as he singled home a run, however the Chargers would battle back in the eighth to even the score yet again at 5-5.

Tampa unloaded for four runs in the ninth, scoring two with back-to-back walks with the bases loaded. Alfonzo scored a pair of runs with a single to push the game from reach at 9-5.

Preston Packrall (10-0) threw 8.0 innings, allowing four earned runs while scattering 10 hits to secure the win. Kevin McNorton tossed the final inning in relief for his third consecutive day of clutch pitching.

UAH closer Luke Mould (5-1) was charged with his first loss of the season, allowing three runs in two-plus innings of relief.