WINTER PARK, Fla. (February 23, 2020) - On a gorgeous afternoon in Winter Park the Rollins Tars claimed the first Sunshine State Conference series of the season with a convincing 7-3 win over the Florida Tech Panthers on Sunday.
Tate Stone-Frisina drew the start for the Tars, and turned in a quality start. The junior right-hander tossed six innings, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks while also striking out five. The Panthers were able to put runners on base, but they rarely made an impact as Stone-Frisina had a solid defense behind him. For the fourth time this season, the Tars finished the game without a defensive error.
Rollins jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the second inning. Jake Rolly started things off with a sharp single up the middle, and moved to second on a wild pitch. Shortly after, Parker Smith walked to put two men on for Andres Antonini. The switch hitter pulled a 3-2 pitch over the left field fence for a three-run home run, his second of the season. The Tars weren't done with the inning. Cody Oerther reignited a rally by drawing a walk and stealing second. He moved to third on a Devon Ortiz single, and eventually came around to score when Cameron Meehan laid down a perfect bunt single that advanced all three runners safely, giving Rollins a 4-0 advantage.
"Andres has done a tremendous job taking advantage of his opportunities," remarked head coach Jon Sjogren. "He is putting in quality at bats, and playing a solid third base defensively. He's been a tremendous addition to the team."
In the fourth inning, the Tars showcased their speed. Parker Smith led off with a walk, and moved to second on a sac bunt. Devon Ortiz followed with a bunt base hit, and then stole second to put two men in scoring position. The swipe was Ortiz's ninth of the year, which is the most in the SSC. With two men on, Meehan came through once again with a triple to right-center field that made the score 6-0. The Tars final run of the day came in the fifth inning when Gabe Scavone launched a ball over the fence in right-center for his first dinger of the year.
The Panthers were able to get on the board with one run in each of the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. All three RBI base hits came with two outs. Still, the Tars' lead proved to be insurmountable, especially with Ross Korosec coming into the game in the eighth inning. The crafty right-hander retired all six batters he faced, and added a pair of strikeouts to his ledger. Korosec owns a 0.00 ERA through seven games and 9.1 innings of work on the season. He is part of a Tars pitching staff that has a season ERA of 2.67, the second-best mark in the conference.
"We challenged our pitchers before the season to prove that they should be on the mound," said pitching coach Patrick Szczerba. "We've been extrememly pleased with the effort from all of our guys. We are confident in each arm that sets foot on the mound during the game."
Rollins moves to 9-4 on the season with the win, and 2-1 in the SSC, which puts them in a tie for first-place. Szczerba was especially proud of how Rollins was able to bounce back after losing Friday night.
"One game is never going to make or break your season, but every conference game is important. Friday was a tough game with the cold weather and our pitchers missing the zone. To bounce back and take the series with two wins is a testament to the work ethic of our players, and we are looking forward to competing all season long."
The next action for Rollins will happen out of state. The Tars are headed to Valdosta, Georgia next weekend for a three-game set against the Valdosta State Blazers. The teams will play at 5 pm on Friday February 28, 2 pm on Saturday February 29, and 1 pm on March 1st. Stay tuned to RollinsSports.com for the latest updates.