CARY, N.C. -- With a 7-3 win against Lander, Tampa continued its quest toward its seventh baseball crown at the NCAA Division II Finals at the U.S. National Training Complex.
The win continues the Spartan season with a 53-3 record while the eliminated Bearcats end 2014 with a 52-9 campaign.
Senior Tyler Ding continued his postseason hot-streak, picking up another pair of hits and a RBI. Shortstop Giovanny Alfonzo and first baseman Sean O’Brien each scored 2 RBI behind multi-hit performances as catcher Nick Tindall was the final UT player to tally a pair of hits.First baseman O’Brien began the Tampa attack, scoring Rivera while Alfonzo mirrored with a RBI base-hit to his credit. The Spartans took an early 2-0 lead against the Bearcats to begin the first frame.
Tampa would tack on another three runs thanks to the bats of Stephen Dezzi and Tyler Ding as each player recorded a RBI base knock in the second inning. The Bearcats scored their first runs as Colby Painter launched a two-run shot over the right field fence to cut the deficit to 5-2 in Tampa’s favor.
Junior Alfonzo added another run in the fourth, plating O’Brien from second on a RBI single. Lander would shrink the margin by one as Erik Lunde plated Painter to shift the score 6-3.
Senior Connor Obrochta blasted a solo home run to left in the fifth frame, adding an insurance run for Tampa and ending the scoring for both squads.
Senior Preston Packrall (11-0) started on the mound for Tampa, pitching 6.1 innings while allowing three runs, scattering 10 hits and striking out three to earn the win. Senior Kevin McNorton pitched the final 2.2 innings to preserve the win and secure his 12th save of the season, limiting Lander to a lone hit in his relief outing.
Bearcats hurler Taylor Alvarez (10-3) was credited with the loss after being touched-up for five runs in less than two innings of work. Lander closer Brandon White was able to shut down the Spartan offense in the late innings, but the early seven runs proved to be the deciding factor in the Tampa win.