TAMPA, Fla. – The seventh inning proved to be the difference as the University of Tampa, the number one ranked team in Division II preseason, topped Bentley University , 5-1, in non-conference college baseball Saturday evening at the UT Baseball Field. It was the season-opener for both teams.
After Bentley left runners on the corners in the top of the seventh while trailing 1-0, the Spartans struck for four, including three after two were out, in the bottom half of the inning to seize control of the contest.
Following a single and walk, senior catcher Nick Tindall (O'Fallon, Ill.) made it a 2-0 game with a single to right. A two-out, two-strike wild pitch brought in the Spartans' third run of the night, and Tampa extended its lead to five when two runners scored on an infield single by junior center fielder Casey Scoggins (Port St. Lucie, Fla.).
Tampa, 54-4 a year ago, opened the scoring in the fifth on a single to left center by Tindall, following a lead-off single and a sacrifice.
Bentley scored its first run of the new season in the ninth. Senior center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater, Mass./Xaverian Bros. HS) led off with his second hit of the game and scored on a one-out double by junior shortstop and UMass transfer Zachary Littman (Abington, Mass./Abington HS).
Senior right-hander Connor Root (Nashua, N.H./Nashua HS North) pitched the first three innings for Bentley and was outstanding, striking out five of the nine batters he faced while allowing only an infield single.
Scott Lueders (Mansfield, Mass./Newton South HS), another senior righty, pitched the middle three and was charged with the loss after giving up the fifth-inning run. He allowed just the two hits.
Bentley finished with six hits, including two apiece by Muir and grad student Kevin Foley (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug HS). Muir also stole a pair of bases and the 2014 Rawlings Gold Glove winner tracked down four fly balls in center.
Junior righty David Heintz (Tampa, Fla.), 10-0 last season for the Spartans, earned the win with five innings of three-hit pitching. He didn't issue a walk and struck out five.
The three-game series between the two will continue with a 1 pm first-pitch on Sunday and conclude with a 3 pm start Monday afternoon.