The State College of Florida baseball team will have to do what its counterpart on the softball diamond couldn’t: work its way through the loser’s bracket at the state tournament.
The Manatees fell 2-1 at Lakeland’s Joker Marchant Stadium against Broward College in Saturday’s FCSAA/NJCAA Gulf District Tournament opener.
SCF (33-19) had chances to either tie or take the lead on more than one occasion.
The key was the sixth inning, when the Manatees loaded the bases with one out, but failed to push across a run.
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Ben Brown grounded out to the pitcher for the second out. Leadoff man Anthony Caronia followed with a sharply hit groundball to first base.
Broward’s Orlando Olivera snagged it, and then dove to tag the base with his glove just ahead of Caronia to enable the Seahawks to escape the jam.
The Manatees’ next best opportunity came in the seventh inning, when Colton Speed led off with a base hit.
Suncoast Conference player of the year L.B. Dantzler followed Speed, but rather than hit away – the third baseman sacrifice bunted Speed up a base.
That left things up to the powerful Roderick “Rock” Shoulders and No. 5 hitter B.J. Zimmerman.
The left-handed Shoulders grounded out to the right side of Broward’s infield with Speed advancing to third.
With two outs, Zimmerman smacked a shot to right field but William Rudolph’s diving catch prevented SCF from tying things up.
Right-hander Nick Goody, who is the Suncoast Conference pitcher of the year, had another strong outing.
The LSU-bound sophomore scattered four hits in seven innings. He gave up just two earned runs and struck out seven batters against four walks.
SCF left 13 runners on base and were tied 1-1 before Broward scored in the fifth inning for the final margin.
The Manatees attempts their climb from the loser’s bracket at 10 a.m. today against Lake Sumter Community College.