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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.— After trailing St. Thomas 3-0 in the first inning, the Fire baseball team was able to come back to defeat the Bobcats 11-7 in the second round of the Sun Conference Tournament. SEU scored in four consecutive innings to survive, while avenging its only conference series loss of the season.
Southeastern, who had registered only a single base hit into the fourth inning, began its comeback in the fourth frame when the team got to TSC Co-Pitcher of the Year, Ian Exposito. Mike Taylor Jr. brought Abdel Guadalupe around from second with a hit to center to get SEU on the board before he was driven in by Willie Estrada to cut the deficit to one.
In the fifth, the fourth-best home run hitting team in the country statistically (1.68 home runs per game) used the longball to go up. Dan Valerio tied the game at three with a lead-off solo shot to left, which was immediately followed by a bomb by Ivan Nunez to put Southeastern up 4-3. Valerio finished the game 3-5 with a pair of RBIs and three runs scored.
Despite relinquishing the advantage in the fifth as STU took a 6-4 lead, the Fire fought back once again.
After Valerio and Nunez reached with two outs in the sixth, Noah Strohl launched a ball over the left field fence to give the Fire a 7-6 lead. Strohl ended the day with a team-high four runs batted in.
Taylor Jr. then capped off the inning with his second RBI single of the day, driving in Guadalupe once more as six consecutive batters reached base with two outs. Taylor Jr, Guadalupe and Estrada all went 2-5, while every SEU starter registered at least one hit in the competition.
The Fire then extended their lead with three more runs in the seventh.
Valerio and Strohl collected RBI hits and Manuel Mesa scored on a wild pitch as SEU went up five.
“We saw Ian Exposito a few weeks ago and he carved us up. Today, he had a similar approach, but we took advantage when he hung some pitches and we were able to come out on top,” Valerio stated.
Heibert Romero, who came on in relief in the third inning, pitched admirably into the ninth. The senior gave up just four hits through 5.1 innings, while picking up his fourth win of the year (4-1).
“Offensively, we continued to grind out at-bats and found a way to extend ABs. On the mound, Heibert Romero came in and threw up some zeroes on the scoreboard, which allowed our offense to click and move forward in a positive way,” said Head Coach Adrian Dinkel.
With the win, Southeastern improved to 48-9 on the year.
The Fire will now play either Warner or Webber in an elimination game tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.