Tampa Begins Defense of National Championship with 7-2 Win over Bentley

Bill Sullivan
Bill Sullivan

TAMPA, Fla. – University of Tampa junior catcher J.D. Osborne (Whitby, Ont.) broke a 1-1 tie with a fifth inning home run and the defending NCAA Division II national champions went on to record a 7-2 win over Bentley University at the UT Baseball Field  in the opening game of the 2016 college baseball season.

Bentley picked up the game's first run, scoring in the top of the first inning. Sophomore DH Nick Neshe (Waltham, Mass./Waltham HS) reached on an error, moved up on a wild pitch and a fly ball, and scored on a grounder to first by grad student Mike Muir (Bridgewater/Xaverian Bros. HS).

The lead stood up until the bottom of the second when junior second baseman Laz Rivera led off with a double down the line, moved to third on a throw to first after a dropped third strike and scored on Osborne's ground out to third.

After four quality innings from right-hander Bill Sullivan (Carver, Mass./Carver HS), senior Will Alden (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) was greeted by Osborne's go-ahead home run to center. That began a three-run fifth for the Spartans, who also scored twice in the sixth and one more in the seventh.

Bentley picked up its second run in the ninth inning. Senior second baseman Zachary Littman (Abington, Mass./Abington HS) led off with a double to right, advanced to third on a grounder by Muir and scored on an error by the second baseman.

Tampa outhit the Falcons 13-3 with DH Mitchell Preston (Wall, N.J.) and Rivera each having three. Osborne finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI.

In addition to Littman, freshman left fielder Cameron Cruz (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton HS) and junior shortstop Justin Ashworth (Orange, Conn./Amity Regional HS) had hits for the Falcons.

Sullivan, the first of four pitchers used by Coach Bob DeFelice, allowed two hits and one run in his 2016 debut. He struck out three and didn't issue a walk.

Junior righty Christopher Williams (Odessa, Fla.) picked up the win for Tampa with four scoreless innings in which he struck out six.

The series will continue with games Saturday at 6 pm and Sunday at 1 pm.