TCC dominates to complete sweep of Shelton State
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (February 13, 2023) — After losing their first game of the season Wednesday at Santa Fe, TCC has started a new winning streak, sweeping the Shelton State Buccaneers in a three-game set at Eagle Field. The series, which was originally scheduled for Friday and Saturday but had to be pushed back due to inclement weather, concluded on Monday afternoon with a 12-2 win for the Eagles.
"We've talked about this from the very beginning, being able to make the adjustments," said head coach Bryan Henry after the win. Before Monday's game, his team moved up to sixth in the Region 8 Coaches' Poll, their first time appearing in the top ten this season. "The rain kind of threw off what we've been preaching all year, which is developing a routine. What gets you ready for a game, everybody is different. The rain had different plans, but everybody was able to make the adjustment and we came out and swung it well, pitched better than we have all year, and it was a good series for us."
From the start, it was all TCC. The Eagles put up two runs in each of the first three innings to jump out to a 6-0 lead. They added another in the fifth, and then put up five runs in the seventh to make it 12-0. Shelton State scored a pair in the top of the eighth against the Eagles' bullpen, but couldn't get any closer.
Kyle Morse (RHP, Soph.) made his third start of the season and picked up his second win in what was his best outing of the year. Morse didn't allow a baserunner until the top of the fourth inning when he hit Shelton State second baseman Jordan Evans with a pitch. Two batters later he got Wesley Helms to ground into a double play, meaning Morse had pitched four innings without allowing a hit and facing the minimum. The Bucs did break into the hit column in the fifth inning on a single from Tyler Thomasson, but they eventually left the bases loaded and Morse escaped the inning, and ultimately his start, unscathed. He finished with five innings pitched, allowing just two hits, no runs, and striking out two.
"Obviously I wanted to bounce back from the previous outing," said Morse, "and that's what I was hoping to do today."
Morse said he was able to lean on his splitter to attack both right- and left-handed hitters, something that wasn't the case in his first two starts. Morse says he's also more comfortable on the mound knowing that he's got a strong bullpen behind him to go with the Eagles' explosive offense.
"It's awesome, we have a deep staff," said Morse. "Everyone around here, we can hit and we can pitch."
"It was outstanding," said Henry on Morse's start. "Just to be able to bounce back, it didn't go the way he'd like down in Santa Fe. We worked hard, made some adjustments in the (bullpen) a couple of days ago. He brought those adjustments to the field and had some success so hopefully he'll get that ball rolling and keep it going."
Nick Smith (1B/OF, Fresh.), the Eagles' starting first baseman, was hitting just .188 entering the weekend and was striking out in 59% of his plate appearances. This weekend against Shelton State, Smith busted out of that slump, going 5-12 at the plate with three doubles and a home run.
"Honestly it was just working on my approach and getting with my hitting coaches," said Smith after Monday's game. "I just needed a little bit of help getting dialed back in and it's starting to feel better now."
When asked how he changed his approach this weekend Smith said, "I had a two-strike approach. Realizing I don't need to swing as hard as I can to get the ball going."
"He needed to relax," said Bryan Henry. "He had such a good fall for us so I don't know if he was pressing a little bit at the beginning to try to pick up where he left off in the fall, but he had nowhere to go but up. He kind of settled down and today was big for him."
Jesus Vanegas had another big day, going 3-5 with a home run, his third of the season. He leads Region 8 in batting average (.586) and is fourth in RBI (18).
"You can't say enough about him," said Henry. "Every at bat is professional. He's doing damage in hitters count and then with two strikes he's cutting his swing down and going the other way, and taking what the pitcher is giving him."
TCC heads down to Bradenton this weekend for a three-game series against State College of Florida. Last season, the two teams split a doubleheader at Eagle Field. The Eagles return home next Wednesday, February 22 for a rematch against Santa Fe, who they lost to 7-4 in Gainesville last week.