MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – Down from the first inning on, the Nova Southeastern Sharks (5-7) continued their tradition of not backing down from late deficits, doing what previous rallies had fallen short of in successfully completing the comeback. The Sharks scored five runs in the top of the ninth inning to defeat the Barry Buccaneers, 8-7, on Thursday night in the first game of their Sunshine State Conference series.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Final Score: Nova Southeastern – 8, Barry – 7
Records: Barry (9-5, 7-3 SSC), Nova Southeastern (5-7, 4-7 SSC)
Location: Feinbloom Field, Miami Shores, Fla.
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HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Sharks were unable to break through in the first inning, stranding runners on the corners with one out, but the Bucs had no such difficulties. A two-out, two-run single through the hole on the left side broke the seal, scoring a third run on a wild pitch shortly thereafter. The Sharks then left the bases loaded in the second, indicating a potentially bad omen and a recurring theme from early-season losses, but after Adan Fernandez doubled high off the batters’ eye in dead center, Ray Sanchez made sure to put an end to that, driving an 0-2 pitch deep to right for a long RBI single.
The score remained at 3-1 until Daniel Irisarri homered just to the right of the batters’ eye in the sixth, closing the gap to a single run. Meanwhile, Sharks starter Cooper Omans had been cruising, allowing just four base runners since the start of the fourth inning and retiring 11 of the last 12 he faced, until a two-out hit batsmen in the bottom half was followed by a two-run long ball to left field, ending Omans’ day at 5.2 innings, with five runs allowed (but only two earned) on five hits, with five strikeouts and two walks.
Fernandez jumped on another 0-2 mistake in the next half-inning, sending it into left for his fourth dinger of the season and cutting the deficit back down to two runs. The Bucs, however, doubled that in that eighth, with back-to-back RBI base hits, setting the stage for what would need to be a very fruitful ninth inning for the Sharks.
Alejandro Macario singled back up the middle and Stephen Schissler worked a walk out of a full count to start the inning, forcing the Buccaneers to turn to the ‘pen for the first time in the frame. The second time came after Tyler Epstein was hit by the second pitch of the at bat, loading the bases for Andrew Labosky, who got just enough of the third pitch he saw to scrape it over the left field wall for a game-tying grand slam.
Facing the fourth different reliever in a row, Fernandez notched his second double of the game just inside the left field line and scored on another double by Alex Steinbach to the other side of the field. Though Steinbach was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple, the Sharks were now in control for the first time all night, turning a four-run deficit into a one-run advantage. That was more than enough for closer Matt Kavanaugh, who allowed just two walks in between a pair of groundouts and a fly out to lock down the save and the road victory to begin the series.
STATS OF THE NIGHT
- Though he gave up the two runs in the eighth, Jeremy Cook picked up the win, his first as a member of the Sharks. He also struck out two batters in his two innings of work.
- Kavanaugh earned his first save of the year and third of his career with his scoreless inning of work. His first was at Barry as well, last Feb. 22. This was also just his second out of 10 career appearances without recording a strikeout, the first being that same Barry game.
- The Sharks continue their hot hitting of late, now averaging 8.0 runs and 10.6 hits and batting .314/.418/.574 with 22 extra-base hits (10 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs) in their last five games.
- Adan Fernandez is also keeping his recent hot streak going, matching his career high of four hits and setting a new one with nine total bases. Over the course of his current six-game hitting streak, he is batting an unfathomable .652/.714/1.087, with four doubles, two homers, eight runs scored and six driven in – raising his average from a season-low .150 to a team-high .419.
- The Sharks hit three home runs as a team in back-to-back games for the first time since March 24-29, 2018 a three-game stretch versus Palm Beach Atlantic and Rollins. The last time it happened it consecutive road games was April 1-2, 2016, when NSU crushed a grand total of 12 homers in a three-game series, coincidentally, at Barry.
The Buccaneers will make their way north to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday for the doubleheader to round out the series, with the action starting at 1:00 p.m. at the NSU Baseball Complex.