WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.— After going up on the no. 5 seed Webber International Warriors 2-1, the no. 2 seeded Fire surrendered two late runs as they dropped their opening game in the Sun Conference Tournament by a score of 3-2. Southeastern will have to win its next four games to have a shot at repeating as Sun Conference Tournament Champions.
Webber gained an early advantage over Southeastern by getting the Fire to throw down to second with a man on third. Manny Rodriguez, who was 90 feet from scoring, came home on the throw to put the Warriors up 1-0 in the bottom of the first.
Despite the rocky start, Nick Bottari led a comeback in the top of the fifth. Following a hit by pitch and back-to-back throwing errors that loaded the bases for the Fire, Bottari delivered with a two-out two-RBI single to center that scored Manuel Mesa and Marcus Stump, giving Southeastern a 2-1 advantage. Bottari, who leads the team with a .431 batting average, notched two of SEU’s three hits in the contest with a 2-for-4 performance.
Rodriguez and the Warriors would strike back late in the competition to regain the lead. Rodriguez, who scored all three of Webber’s runs on the day, was plated on a sacrifice fly to center in the sixth to tie the matchup at two. In the eighth, Rodriguez crossed to put the Warriors up for good on an RBI single by Jesse Coleman, leaving a mere three outs for a potential Southeastern comeback.
Jonathan Bermudez (12-2) allowed only one earned run in the competition, holding the Warriors to just seven hits over 7.2 innings of work. However, the Fire were unable to get offensive production to help the Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year’s performance on the mound.
Southeastern, who ranks ninth in the NAIA in runs scored per game with 8.75, came up well short of that total by managing to score two thanks to a phenomenal pitching effort by Zak Spivy (6-6).
Spivy closed out the game for the Warriors as he pitched a complete-game three-hitter and Webber (32-21) handed the no. 4 ranked Fire (50-6) a loss for the second time this season.
The Fire will look to rebound in an elimination game when they take on Thomas University at 11 a.m. tomorrow.