Juco baseball | State College Florida stages ninth-inning rally, defeats Polk State College

jdill@bradenton.comApril 6, 2013 

BRADENTON -- State College of Florida baseball head coach Tim Hill II gathered his team outside the club's dugout for a pep talk.

The Manatees needed a jolt.

They trailed visiting Polk State College by a run, and their offense had sputtered for the previous five innings.

SCF only had two more turns at the plate to get the job done.

But all the Manatees needed was Eagles right-hander Matt Pearce to leave the game.

Once he gave way to Trey Norris to close the game in the ninth inning, SCF provided the fireworks for the home fans at Robert C. Wynn Field on Friday. The Manatees (30-9, 12-3 Suncoast Conference) staged a three-run, ninth-inning rally to earn a 4-3 victory.

"What I told the guys was that we haven't been in a game like this in awhile," Hill II said. "We haven't been down late in a game in awhile, and this is good. ... I thought we were a little flat at that point, and I said, 'Hey, we still have two cracks at it. Let's try to regroup and win a ballgame.'"

Polk State took a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning on a groundout and an infield hit. The Eagles tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth as Pearce was shutting down the SCF bats.

After surrendering a leadoff hit to Julian Santos in the bottom of the third, which was SCF's fourth hit of the game, Pearce retired the next 14 batters in a row and finished the game getting 17 of the final 18 batters he faced.

For SCF, Robby Kalaf (6-0) was in danger of losing for the first time this season after throwing 7 1/3 innings of five-hit baseball that included allowing just two runs.

But he received a no-decision after the late offense from his teammates.

LSU-bound sophomore Connor Hale, freshman Jarred Smith and redshirt freshman Sean Trent delivered three hits in a row to begin the final frame off Norris.

After Connor Oliver's fielder's choice plated the second SCF run of the inning, Dalton Busby moved him into scoring position before Andrew Widell delivered the game-winning hit.

"I couldn't do it without the guys getting on first," Widell said. "They came up big, starting the rally."

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