WINTER PARK, Fla. (March 6, 2020) - It wasn't the prettiest win, but the Rollins Tars prevailed over the Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish on Friday afternoon, winning by a score of 3-2.
The two familiar foes were facing off in a non-conference matchup. It was a pitcher's duel between two of the top arms in the Sunshine State Conference, Drew Daczkowski and Christian Denton. Heading into the game, both pitchers ranked in the top five in the conference in ERA.
Strangely enough, both pitchers had a rough start to the day. In the top of the first, Daczkowski forced two quick outs, but then allowed three straight singles. The last of the three, stroked by Brandon Smith, scored Brandon Seltzer to make it 1-0. With two men on, Dutch was able to induce a groundout to escape further damage. In the bottom half, Cameron Meehan walked to get things started for Rollins. The next batter, Andres Antonini, laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line that forced the third baseman to charge. As Palm Beach Atlantic made the play at first, Meehan hustled all the way to third and arrived safely. Adams Torres followed with a sharply hit groundball to the left side that scored Meehan and tied the game.
After a scoreless second, the Tars were able to take the lead in the bottom of the third. Cody Oerther led things off with a double to the left field corner, and moved to third on a sac bunt from Sam LaFontaine. Meehan then did his job, launching a deep flyball to left-center that was plenty long enough to bring in Oerther on the sac fly.
The fourth, fifth, and sixth innings were uneventful as both pitchers were locked in. Both hurlers did a great job of limiting each respective offense to weak contact, and no runner for either team made it past second during the three inning stretch. After Daczkowski turned in his seventh inning of work, the Tars added an insurance run in the bottom of the frame. A walk to Luke Reidy, followed by a Devon Ortiz sac bunt, put a runner in scoring position with one out. Gabe Scavone came through with a frozen rope double to right center that scored Cameron Montgomery, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Reidy. After a slew of changes, including one on the mound for PBA and two at the plate for Rollins, it looked like the Tars may pad their lead when they loaded the bases. However, the Sailfish got a big strikeout from Andreas Papageorge to leave the runners on base.
James Hoelle was called upon to relieve Daczkowski in the eighth. He ran into trouble early by walking two of the first three batters he faced. After getting a second out on a flyball, it looked like the inning would end on a hard-hit groundball to short. The ball was bobbled by Torres, followed by a rushed a throw to second that went wide of the covering LaFontaine. The throwing error allowed Derek Schwimer to score and make the game 3-2. Hoelle was able to force a groundout against the next batter to keep the Tars in front.
Head Coach Jon Sjogren called on Ross Korosec to close things out in the ninth. The game got real interesting when an infield single, followed by a bunt single, put two Sailfish on base with no outs. PBA chose to sac bunt both runners over and give up one of their final three outs. The Tars then intentionally wlaked Schwimer to load the bases and create a force play at any base. The gamble paid off as Sean Houck grounded a ball weakly back to Korosec in the next at bat. After a quick toss to the catcher for the second out, Oerther was able to fire the ball to first and beat Houck, ending the game.
Daczkowski earned the win with his fifth quality start of the season. He scattered seven hits, allowing one run, and did not walk a batter. He also struck out five Sailfish, giving him a team-high 33 on the season. Denton suffered the loss despite an impressive outing; the lefty gave up three runs on two hits and three walks over 6.1 innings.
The Tars only managed three hits in the game, all doubles. Meehan scored once and added an RBI, while Torres and Scavone drove in the other two runs.
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday. Rollins will faceoff against the Eckerd Tritons at 12 pm in another non-conference battle between familiar foes. Palm Beach Atlantic will square up against the Malone University Pioneers at 3 pm. Stay tuned to RollinsSports.com for the latest updates.