TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 18, 2016) – NJCAA Region 8 No. 9 Tallahassee Community College watched a 5-1 lead evaporate then rallied for a 9-8 win over No. 3 Gulf Coast State College in Monday's Panhandle Conference baseball game at Eagle Field.
With the game tied at 8-all in the bottom of the eighth, Tallahassee took advantage of a pair of wild pitches by Gulf Coast State's Greg Loukinen, the second allowing Deyvid Silva to race home from third with the game-winning run.
Silva led off the ninth with a single and, after a fly out to left, moved into scoring position when Loukinen uncorked his first wild pitch. He advanced to third when a two-out error allowed Tyler Kinard to reach base and extend the inning.
Skylar Arias (5-3) pitched the final four innings to earn the victory. He struck out eight, including back-to-back strikeouts to start the ninth. After a two-out single and wild pitch moved the tying run into scoring position, Bowen McGuffin grounded out to short to end the game.
After being swept in a three-game series last month, including scores of 7-5 and 8-7, Tallahassee (33-16) picked up its first win of the season against Gulf Coast State (36-12, 12-7 PC). More importantly, the win, coupled with Northwest Florida State College's 14-4 loss at home to Pensacola State College, moved the Eagles into a third-place tie with the Raiders with three games remaining.
Both teams are 7-10 in league play, and Tallahassee is assured of heading to this weekend's season-ending series against Northwest Florida State with the PC's Wild Card berth on the line.
Tallahassee will travel to Gulf Coast State on Wednesday while Northwest Florida State hits the road for a game at Pensacola State. Those games will dictate exactly what the Eagles must do beginning with Friday's game at Niceville.
For the moment, though, Tallahassee's postseason hopes are very much alive, thanks in large part to the long ball. Three home runs accounted for eight of the Eagles' nine runs on Monday.
Two innings later, Zach Featherstone hit a three-run blast to left, his team-high tenth of the season, to extend the Eagles' lead to 5-1.
Buckler allowed a run in the fifth and took a 5-2 lead to the sixth, when back-to-back singles by McGuffin and Nick Nelson brought the tying run to the plate with nobody out.
Buckler was poised to minimize the damage, but a potential double play ball went awry when second baseman Josh Nothdorft slipped on the bag at second and lost control of the throw from third baseman Mac Wilson to load the bases. The next batter, Jonathan Bennett, hit a grand slam to give Gulf Coast State a 6-5 lead.
An error and a double followed to score another run and end Buckler's day after five-plus innings. Arias came on and struck out the side but not before a stolen base and the Eagles' third error of the inning plated a sixth run and gave the Commodores an 8-5 lead.
Just when it seemed the game might slip away, Tallahassee responded in its half of the sixth. With two runners on and one out, head coach Mike McLeod called on pinch-hitter Bryan Scheker, who delivered his second game-tying, pinch-hit homer of the season.
Ten days ago, Scheker hit a pinch-hit grand slam in the top of the ninth at Pensacola State. Tonight, he took Dylan Cyphert's 2-1 pitch over the left field wall, scoring Silva and Ethan Crout to knot the game at 8-8.
Meanwhile, Arias retired 11 straight batters until the two-out single in the ninth. He allowed only one hit and walked none.
Featherstone was 2-for-3 with three RBIs, and Silva was 2-for-4 and scored twice.
Wednesday's game at Gulf Coast State begins at 6 p.m. eastern.