TAMPA, Fla. – Ten different players drove in runs, including three by junior shortstop Ty Cooler (Lutz, Fla.) as the University of Tampa, the number one team in Division II, completed a three-game season-opening sweep of Bentley University with a 15-2 victory Monday afternoon at the UT Baseball Field.
The middle innings were the difference in this one as the Spartans broke a 2-2 tie with five runs in the fifth and used six extra base hits to add eight in the sixth. Those two innings featured a two-run double by junior third baseman Nick Flair (Belle Chasse, La.), three RBIs by Cooler, a two-run homer to left by junior shortstop Cody deNovelles (Windemere, Fla.) and a two-run triple from sophomore Vin Cosenzo (North Caldwell, N.J.).
Tampa jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first but Bentley bounced right back with two in the top of the second. Junior shortstop Zachary Littman (Abington, Mass./Abington HS) led off with a single to right, went to second on a failed pickoff and took third on a ground out. Junior catcher Bryan Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton Rehoboth HS) doubled down the line to score Littman, evening the game, and scored the go-ahead run on a single up the middle by sophomore first baseman Justin Ashworth (Orange, Conn./ Amity Regional HS).
The lead was short-lived as Spartan senior right fielder Stephen Dezzi (Sarasota, Fla.) led off the bottom of the third with a home run to right.
Tampa finished with 22 hits and 36 total bases with Cooler leading the way with four out of the ninth spot in the lineup. deNoyelles and senior catcher Nick Tindall (O'Fallon, Ill.) each had three hits and two runs scored, and Dezzi scored three times, including the tying home run.
Freshman second baseman Mike Samko (Arlington, Mass./BB&N) had three of Bentley's five hits as he finished the series with a .417 average, second to the .500 posted by senior center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater, Mass./Xaverian Bros. HS).
Bentley will return to the Sunshine State Feb. 13-15 for a three-game series at Rollins College.