College Sports

Manatees win state tournament opener

The sprinkler system didn’t randomly turn on. The lights didn’t suddenly zap visibility out of the ballpark.

No, this time the delay came when Mother Nature sprinkled rain to delay things in the Florida Junior College State baseball tournament opening day.

It didn’t seem to faze the State College of Florida.

The Manatees downed St. Johns River Community College 8-3 on Thursday after a couple big innings and the shutdown stuff from starter Alex Burgos at Lakeland’s Joker Marchant Stadium.

The victory puts SCF into a 4 p.m. winners bracket contest today with Palm Beach State College, who beat Chipola College 16-10 earlier on Thursday.

“Another situation where we got backed up,” head coach Tim Hill said over the phone. “But, yeah, everyone was anxious to get started.”

It’s no wonder why, after the performance Burgos, a first team All-State selection, turned in.

Burgos tossed eight innings, fanning 13 Vikings, while scattering five hits.

His lone blemish came in the seventh inning when Andrew McNeal blasted a one-out solo home run.

The Manatees had jumped out to a 3-0 lead, before McNeal’s bomb cut the deficit to two.

SCF scored three times in the first inning after B.J. Zimmerman and Austin Chubb smacked back-to-back RBI doubles.

And staking Burgos a three-run cushion is like giving big leaguers Tim Lincecum or Roy Halladay run support.

“He was more dominating today ... 11 of the first 15 outs were strikeouts,” Hill said.

SCF tacked on four more runs with two outs in the seventh, where the Manatees sent 10 hitters to the plate.

Jeremy Strawn finished off the victory with two strikeouts and a flyout to strand the bases loaded in the ninth and preserve a five-run win.

Paul Stortini (2-for-4, double, two RBIs), Anthony Figliolia (3-for-5, RBI, run), Zimmerman (2-for-4, double, RBI, two runs, walk) and Austin Smith (2-for-4, run, stolen base) led the offense.

SCF beat Palm Beach State 9-3 earlier in the year, prior to conference play beginning.