With the bases loaded, one out, and the score tied in the bottom of the ninth, Cody Burgess struck out swinging at a 3-2 pitch, but the ball got past the catcher and Matt Piatt dashed home with the winning run as Polk State beat Lake-Sumter State College 2-1 tonight in Winter Haven.
Piatt scored after he started a game-saving double play the previous inning.
With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth, the Lakehawks had runners at first and third with one out. A sinking liner to right looked like it would score the go-ahead run, but Piatt charged, dove, and caught the ball. He then threw from a sitting position to first base for the putout on the runner, who had strayed too far from the base.
That play capped an inning in which reliever Zak Spivy pitched out of trouble after a leadoff double and an error put runners at the corners.
Lake-Sumter got its run in the third inning when starting pitcher Jacob Kelley allowed a two-out walk. The runner then stole second and scored on a single.
Polk State tied it in the bottom of the fifth. After Zack Bullard and Gage Peters led off the inning with walks, Brandon Gali's sacrifice bunt moved them to second and third. Burgess entered the game as a pinch-runner for Peters, and Kaylor Kulina drove in the tying run on a fielder's choice.
Once again, the Eagles got excellent pitching but struggled to score runs, managing just two hits in the game.
Kelley worked seven and one-third of inning, allowing five hits and one earned run while walking two and striking out five.
Spivy got the win, his first of the season. He pitched one and two-thirds of an inning, holding the Lakehawks to two hits while striking out one.
"Our pitching staff has been doing a phenomenal job all year, and today was no different," said Head Coach Al Corbeil. "We did some really good things on the mound.
"Our bats need to get a lot better. Our hitters need to get more competitive. Once we get there I think we have a chance to be a solid club, but we still have a way to go."
As a team the Eagles are hitting .170 with a .279 on-base percentage and a .197 slugging percentage.
The pitching staff has a 1.34 ERA and has held opposing hitters to a .200 batting average.
With the win, the Eagles improved to 4-4. They play Palm Beach State College at 5 p.m. Friday in Winter Haven.