MELBOURNE, Fla.- The Sailfish and Panthers split their doubleheader Saturday afternoon as Palm Beach Atlantic (16-12) took the opener 4-3 in thanks to late heroics while dropping the rubber match of the series to Florida Tech (16-17) 5-3.
There were plenty of fireworks for two low-scoring games Saturday afternoon, as both teams combined for seven homers on the day, nine in total on the weekend. The Sailfish used back-to-back solo homers from Michaela Hynes and Shelby Wood to take the 4-3 lead in the opener. Loren Kilgore hit the lone Sailfish home run in the finale in an attempt to spark another come-from-behind win, as the junior hit a pinch-hit solo shot in the top of the seventh to bring the ‘Fish back within two runs.
The Sailfish return to action on Friday, March 24 as they head to Daytona Beach, Fla. to take on the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Eagles for a three-game weekend series. Game one will be held Friday night at 6 p.m., with games two and three being in doubleheader form on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.
GAME ONE: PBA 4, FIT 3
Leading off the top of the seventh inning as the Sailfish trailed 3-2, Hynes crushed her first home run of the season, as the Windermere, Fla. native hit it out to straightaway center to tie the ballgame at three. The following batter, Wood pulled one to left field to put the ‘Fish out in front 4-3. The home run is the second of the year and fifth overall in her career for the Jacksonville Fla. native.
The ‘Fish jumped out to an early 2-0 lead to start off the game, as Hynes doubled to left field in the top of the second inning scoring Kayla Knight putting the Blue and White up 1-0, and they took a 2-0 lead an inning later as Liz Albertini scored on a Florida Tech error.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Florida Tech got on the board courtesy of a solo home run from Hailey Leonard and added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth courtesy of a two-run shot from Alexus Smith to put the Panthers up 3-2 after the end of the fifth inning.
Nikki Brinegar (W, 4-5) picked up her fourth win of the season in the opener, pitching 2.1 innings in relief, only allowing one hit. The southpaw shut out the Panthers in her short work.
GAME TWO: PBA 3, FIT 5
The Sailfish struck first in the finale as Magnolia West doubled to right field, scoring Alexis Guerra for the game’s opening run in the top of the first inning. The Panthers answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the third inning on a sacrifice fly.
After reaching on an error to lead off the top of the fourth inning, Brianna Skipper later came to score thanks to Wood’s third hit of the day.
The Panthers broke it open in the bottom of the fourth inning as they struck for four runs courtesy of two home runs in the inning. After two walks to start the inning, FIT’s Smith hit a two-out, three-run homer, her second home run of the day. Her home run put the Panthers out in front 4-2 before Leonard hit her second solo homer of the day to stretch their lead to 5-2.
Trailing by three runs heading into the top of the seventh, Kilgore hit her second pinch-hit homer of the season to bring the ‘Fish back within two runs. The Sailfish got one more runner aboard to bring the tying run to the plate but were unable to equalize things yet again their last at-bat, falling 5-3 in the finale.
Ashton Adkins (L, 10-4) only allowed two Panther hits in her 3.2 innings of work, but her second hit was the biggest of the game. Brinegar worked 2.1 innings in relief, allowing just two hits and one run, the solo homer. The lefty picked up the only Sailfish strike out of the day, and also did not walk a batter.