LAKELAND, Fla. (May 5, 2017) – It would have been Tallahassee Community College's most improbable comeback yet.
Down 7-0 to State College of Florida and facing standout lefty Brendon Little, Tallahassee mounted a furious comeback before eventually falling to the Manatees, 11-8, in opening round play at the NJCAA District/FCSAA State Tournament.
Tallahassee (28-24) will face elimination when it plays St. Johns River State College at 4 p.m. Saturday in the first of two loser's bracket games.
Things looked bleak for the Eagles, who struck out eight times and managed just one hit through the first five innings against Little. Then, in a scene similar to the Eagles' season, they suddenly woke up.
Jordan Curtis and Josh Nothdorft led off the sixth with back-to-back singles, and both runners scored when Tanner Thomas narrowly missed a home run to the deepest part of Joker Marchant Stadium. A wild pitch scored Thomas and suddenly the Eagles found themselves in a ball game, down 7-3.
SCF picked up a run in its half of the sixth before Tallahassee knocked out Little with one out in the seventh. The teams traded seventh-inning runs – the Eagles scoring on Cole Vann's sac-fly – then Tallahassee made things real interesting an inning later.
After Deyvid Silva and Tucker Rayburn walked to lead off the inning, Aaron Haughton drilled a triple to straightaway center – one of four combined triples in the game – to score both runners. Jack Hartman singled home Haughton and when he later scored on Thomas' single, Tallahassee was within a run, 9-8.
Octavio Marin, the last of four pitchers used by Tallahassee, retired the first two batters in the eighth but issued a two-out walk then allowed a wind-aided home run to right by Tyler Romanik that all but silenced the Eagles' comeback hopes.
All but two of SCF's 11 runs came with two outs, including a five-run fourth inning that put the Eagles in a 6-0 hole and knocked out starter Derick Garcia (6-2).
Garcia retired the first two batters in the fourth but a two-out walk was followed by Brock Bell's RBI-double. Despite another walk, Garcia and the Eagles were poised to get out of the inning down 2-0, but an infield single loaded the bases, and Keshawn Lynch singled off Nothdorft's glove at third to score two runs. A two-run triple followed to give the Manatees a 6-0 lead and end Garcia's day.
Tallahassee finished with ten hits on the afternoon – Curtis, Thomas, Rayburn and Haughton had two hits each.