BOCA RATON, Fla. – In a brief reprieve from the grind of Sunshine State Conference action, the Nova Southeastern Sharks (4-7) scored early and often in their 11-4 midweek non-conference road win again South Florida foe Lynn University, as the offense continued its recent breakout, paced by a career-first multi-home run day by Alex Steinbach and a .750 day for Adan Fernandez.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Final Score: Nova Southeastern – 11, Lynn – 4
Records: Lynn (6-12), Nova Southeastern (4-7)
Location: Lynn Baseball Field, Boca Raton, Fla.
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HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Sharks had an immediate scoring opportunity against former Shark Marvin Guzman, when Tyler Epstein led off the game with a double, but he was unable to score despite advancing to third on the first out.
After the Fighting Knights led off their half with a home run, the Sharks quickly came back to tie it. Ray Sanchez displayed some surprising speed, going all the way to third on an error by the right fielder, then came in to score on a groundout. Meanwhile, starter Daniel Rivero, making just his third appearance and his first career start, rebounded from the leadoff homer to retire the next six batters, including three via strikeout, doing an admirable job as the first of the team’s “Johnny Wholestaff,” before giving way to the rest of the bullpen.
In the third inning, the Sharks took the lead and never looked back, Fernandez driving in Epstein with a single to left for the 2-1 edge. Starting off a big day, Steinbach sent a solo homer to the opposite field in the next frame before the Fighting Knights got the run back with a solo shot of their own. The Sharks showed no signs of slowing down, though, scoring in the fourth straight inning with Epstein and Fernandez repeating their two-man game from the third. They logged two runs in an inning for the first time when Sanchez and his speed showed up once again, this time without the assistance of any errors, scoring Fernandez on a triple over the center fielder’s head.
The Knights had a chance to close the gap or perhaps even take the lead, loading the bases with no outs after their first and only 1-2-3 inning in the top half of the sixth, but reliever Ricky Shimko was able to limit the damage to just a sacrifice fly, keeping the Sharks on top, 5-3. Sensing the game was still too close for their own comfort, the Sharks offense went back to work and decided to put the game out of reach for good in the seventh. Michael Uz drew a walk to load the bases and force the Fighting Knights to use their third pitcher of the game, who proceeded to issue another walk to Sanchez – then two batters later, served up Steinbach’s second longball of the afternoon, this time pulled to left field, putting the Sharks comfortably in front, 9-3.
Lynn got one more on another solo homer, then another bases-loaded situation allowed Nik Sanders a pinch-hitting opportunity. Much like his similar position to end the first game of the Tampa series less than two weeks ago, Sanders once again sent the pitch to the warning track in right field, though he did at least get a sacrifice fly out of this one to get the Sharks their 10th run of the game. Alex Hernandez, in a pinch-hit spot in the ninth, got that extra carry that Sanders lacked, turning on his pitch for a homer into left, the 11th and final run of the game.
STATS OF THE DAY
- The Sharks hit three home runs as a team for the first time this season, with Steinbach being the first player to hit two in one game since Garrett Wolforth vs. Embry-Riddle on Feb. 23, 2019.
- Even though they were shut out in their second game of the doubleheader at Rollins on Saturday, the Sharks are still averaging 8.0 runs and 10.0 hits over their last four games, batting .303/.415/.546 with 16 extra-base hits during that span.
- All three of Steinbach’s homers this season have come in that four-game stretch, and he has multi-hit games in each of the Sharks’ last three wins.
- Adan Fernandez blasted home runs in the first inning of each of the first two games of the season, but he was just 3-for-20 (.150) overall after six games. He is fully on the other side of that slump, on a torrid 11-for-18 (.611) tear in his last five games, bringing his average up to .368 on the year.
- Despite using a bullpen staff game approach, the Sharks pitching corps held a Fighting Knights offense that averaged over five runs and eight hits per game to just four runs on four hits in this contest, with three of those hits being solo home runs, including two off the bat of leadoff hitter Lawrence Cicileo.
- The five Sharks pitchers used in the game – Daniel Rivero, Carlos Rey, Jose Varela, Ricky Shimko and Stephen Schissler – combined for 11 strikeouts, giving the Sharks a total of 44 since the beginning of the Rollins series, as well as an opponent batting average of just .174.
The Sharks will return to conference play on Thursday, continuing their South Florida swing by heading down to Miami Shores to face off against the Barry Buccaneers, currently second in the SSC at 7-2 (9-4 overall), to begin their series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., returning the favor with the doubleheader at the NSU Baseball Complex on Saturday.