News-Sun photo by DAN HOEHNE Carlos Matamoros sparked the Panther comeback Friday with a third-inning grand slam.
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published: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Panthers prevail in opener
By DAN HOEHNE
AVON PARK - The South Florida State College Panthers honored outgoing president Dr. Norman Stephens twice during Friday's home opener.
First, with a pre-game ceremony, including gifts to Dr. Stephens and his wife, along with a ceremonial first pitch.
Then the Panthers made the day a positive one all around with a come-from-behind 6-5 win over the College of Central Florida Patriots.
Things started off quietly enough with SFSC starter James Gray and Patriot southpaw Darren Fischer zipping through one-two-three firsts.
But Central Florida scratched for three runs in the second when Gray's command got a little dicey.
After hitting lead-off batter Mario Urdaneta to start the frame, Gray got a pop-out to short, but saw Brendan Collins take him out of the yard down the left-field line for a 2-0 Patriot lead.
Enderson Velasquez followed with a single to left on the very next pitch before Gray got the second out of the inning on a fly to center.
But consecutive singles from JT Thomas and Sean Glabicky plated Velasquez and put the lead at 3-0.
The Panthers went quietly in their half of the second, and the Pats added another in the top of the third.
With one out, Urdaneta doubled off the left-field fence and with two out, Collins split the gap in left-center for another double to make it a 4-0 margin.
But the bottom of the order got South Florida going in the bottom of the third.
Sebring grad Evan Lewis started it by drawing a walk and moved to second on a Kevin Schubert single to center.
Spencer Mumford then blooped one into shallow right for a single to load the bases.
Lead-off man Carlos Matamoros then provided the pop with he launched one deep to right-center that cleared the fence for a game-tying, grand-slam home run.
After a scoreless top of the fourth, the Panthers took the lead on a bases loaded walk to Josh Townsend for a 5-4 edge.
Avon Park's Lane Crosson then came on in relief and got the first two batters on pop-outs to Townsend at short and right fielder Mumford then made a diving catch to end the inning.
The Patriots, however would get an unearned run to tie it up in the sixth.
With one out, Velasquez reached on an error and moved to second on a Sean Plunkett single to center.
Thomas then loaded the bases by taking one for the team, but it looked like the threat might be averted when a bouncer to Schubert at first was thrown home for a fielder's choice force out at the plate.
But a base on balls to the next batter made it a 5-5 game.
After former Blue Streak got through a bumpy but scoreless seventh, South Florida took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning.
Townsend drew a lead-off walk and with one out and Joe Jusino at the plate, stole second.
Jusino would be retired, but Jordan Rivera came through with a bouncer back through the middle to bring Townsend in.
From there, Osha was aided in the eighth by a fine running catch from former Blue Streak teammate Lewis in center.
And with two outs and one on, Justin Machado came in to record a 1-4-3 fielder's choice to end the inning.
The Panthers couldn't pad their lead in the bottom of the eighth, and things looked a bit tenuous in the ninth.
Another Sebring grad, Josh Chavis, came on as the closer and retired the first two batters he faced on a strike out and fly to right.
But an error on a slow roller to third kept it alive before Chavis induced a grounder to short for the final out.
"It was just a great day all around," head coach Rick Hitt said afterward. "The weather was perfect and we played well. It was an honor and a blessing to get the win on Dr. Stephens day. He's been the backbone of this college and has done so much in support of all the programs here on campus.
"We got the big swing in the fourth with the grand slam and our pitchers did their jobs," he continued. "James (Gray) battled and made pitches, Crosson came in and got out of a big jam and Chavis did what Chavis does and that's get people out. We've got a lot of games ahead of us, so it's nice to get the first win right off the bat."
The Panthers have little time to savor it, however, as they hit the road with a game at Seminole State College Saturday, are at Lake Sumter in Leesburg today and play at Webber International Monday before returning home Wednesday for a Webber rematch at 6 p.m.
SF PANTHERS BASEBALL (by: LOURDES A. MATAMOROS - 1/28/2013)
I loved your article on the opening game on Friday, January 25th, 2013. What a game!...the young man who hit the grand-slam, Carlos A. Matamoros is my son. Yes I am a proud mom. Thank you for the article and the awesome action photo of him. Please let me know if I can get a copy of that photo, It means a lot to me. My congratulations to the team and the coaching staff.
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