ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. The Quaker baseball team dropped its season opener to host Eckerd College, 7-4, on Saturday afternoon at the Turley Athletic Complex.
The Tritons (3-9), already with 11 games under their belts coming into the weekend, received a strong pitching effort by starter Sam Reece, who went eight innings and allowed just two earned runs on six hits while striking out five.
Penn (0-1) got on the board first in the second inning after Ken-Ichi Hino drove in Tony Moses, who singled, on a fielder’s choice.
Eckerd responded in the bottom of the frame after Mike Ferraina and Thomas O’Konski led off with singles. Ferraina scored on a groundout while O’Konski crossed the plate after an error by Hino that would have ended the inning.
The Quakers tied the game up in the third when Alex Nwaka scored on a groundout by Tim May.
The big inning for Eckerd came in the fifth against Penn starter Brian Cirri, as they scored three runs on four straight hits to take a 5-2 lead. The Tritons would tack two more runs on in the next two innings on RBI doubles by Jason Recore and Ferraina to go ahead, 7-2.
Meanwhile, Reece retired 12 straight Quaker hitters before Penn senior Sean Abate walked in the eighth inning, when the Quakers scored twice to cut the deficit to three runs. Abate scored on a throwing error by Eckerd catcher O’Konski and freshman Rajan Paty scored after coming in as a pinch runner and advancing to home on a wild pitch by Reece.
Eckerd’s Michael Fallin allowed no runs on one hit in the ninth in relief of Reece to earn his first save of the season.
Cirri (0-1) allowed six runs, five earned, on eight hits with a strikeout and a walk for Penn. Freshman Jim Farrell had two hits while Nwaka added two stolen bases for the Quakers.
Grant Massie and Ferraina had two hits each for Eckerd.
The Quakers take on the Tritons again on Sunday, March 5, at 1 p.m.
The Quakers will play against Maine from March 9-11, but the teams will not play in West Palm Beach, Fla., as originally scheduled. Thursday's game will be held at the Santaluces Athletic Complex in Lantana, Fla. The games against Maine on Friday and Saturday will each take place on the home field of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla.
All games will start at the originally scheduled times.