FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – What started out looking like a pitcher’s duel between the Nova Southeastern Sharks (2-6) and the Rollins Tars (7-5) on Friday night at the NSU Baseball Complex made a quick shift in NSU’s favor at the midpoint of the night, as the Sharks unloaded a seven-run fifth inning to earn their second win of the 2021 campaign. The run support backed up a steady pitching performance by Cooper Omans.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Final Score: Nova Southeastern – 11, Rollins – 6
Records: Nova Southeastern (2-6, 2-7 SSC), Rollins (7-5, 7-4 SSC)
Location: NSU Baseball Complex, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
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HOW IT HAPPENED:
The opening frame was not in the Sharks favor and it definitely didn’t rattle the confidence of the second-year left-handed pitcher Omans. The Tars used a single and a walk to get on the board as Adams Torres tagged up for the early lead on Jack Gonzalez’ sacrifice fly.
However, that fast start was halted just as quickly after a visit to the mound from pitching coach Bryan Radziewski. Omans quickly eliminated the threat, knocking out the final out swinging.
The Tars’ lead wouldn’t stand long, as Tyler Epstein sent the second pitch of the home half into center field for a leadoff single. Two batters latter, Adan Fernandez crushed his third home run of the year out of left field to put the Sharks on top – where they would stay for good with more run support on the way.
Epstein stuck again in the bottom of the second, launching a long line drive into center field to plate Alejandro Macario, who reached third on a blown pickoff at second, extending the NSU lead.
Coming off the inning-ending strikeout in the first, Omans started fresh, knocking down eight consecutive Rollins batters – including five strikeouts in the stretch – before a walk briefly interrupted his flow. Omans carried NSU all the way through the sixth with only one additional run allowed, striking out a career-best and team-leading nine strikeouts – the most strikeouts for a Shark since Devin Conn (15) in 2018.
Before Omans completed his run, the Sharks offense completely unloaded in the bottom of the fifth, lighting up the first Tars reliever, Carson Hauben. After Fernandez led off with a four-pitch walk, the Sharks coaxed out two more free passes to set up the game of pinball. As Rollins made the call to bring Ross Korosec from the bullpen, catcher Olivier Mayrand dropped the hammer to get the ball rolling with on a drive roped past the third baseman – bringing home Adam Smith and Fernandez. Macario followed with an RBI double lifted into the right center gap, scoring Alex Steinbach. Epstein smacked one off the wall in dead center for a two-run triple that scored Mayrand and Macario. Andrew Labosky rounded out four consecutive scoring plate appearances with an RBI single to right center, allowing Epstein and easy jog home. Wrapping up a seven-run inning for the Sharks, Fernandez sent Labosky to the plate with an RBI single to left.
Although the Tars notched a Luke Reidy home run in the sixth, the Sharks fired back in the home half, as Steinbach lifted his first NSU home run out of left field to grow the NSU advantage back to nine runs.
In the back third of the game, the Tars worked to make up ground against the Sharks bullpen, adding one run in both the seventh and eighth, but with just two runs in the ninth, NSU closed the door on the rally, as Carlos Rey put away two key strikeouts to send the game final at 11-6.
STATS OF THE DAY
- The Sharks notched a new season high of 11 runs, coming on 12 hits, with seven starters logging hits and four multi-hit games.
- Unlike recent games that saw the Sharks provide hits, but strand runners, NSU left just seven runners aboard in the opener with the Tars.
- With the team’s longest appearance of the year, Omans’ nine strikeouts takes the lead for the most in the season for the second consecutive year.
- Leading the team with a .667 average and a ridiculous .824 on-base percentage, Macario was 1-for-1 with an RBI and two runs, adding two more walks to make it six free passes in the past two games.
- Collecting a hit for the 22nd time in the past 24 games, Epstein’s 3-for-4, three-RBI, two-run performance is his third multi-hit game in the past four outings – logging his second triple this season.
- Finally breaking through, Steinback went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs.
The Sharks continue their series with Rollins on Saturday, but in Winter Park. The Sharks and Tars are set for a doubleheader at Alfond Stadium with first pitch set for 3:00 p.m.
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