tampabay.com

Spartans blaze into final

Close call forgotten, UT wins a third lopsided game chasing a repeat.

By GRAHAM DUNN
Published May 31, 2007


MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- After needing a three-run blast to win the South Region, the Tampa Spartans are still looking for a challenge in the NCAA Division II baseball championship tournament.

The top-ranked Spartans had little trouble earning their second straight trip to the championship game with an 8-1 victory over Southern Indiana on Wednesday night at Riverwalk Stadium.

The win was their third in the tournament, all by a margin of seven or more.

Tampa (52-10) will face Columbus (Ga.) State (51-18) in the final Friday at 8 p.m., looking for its second consecutive title and fifth overall. Columbus State beat Cal State Los Angeles 9-4 to reach the final.

Tampa starter Scott Chapman improved to 8-0 with seven solid innings, giving up a run on five hits. He struck out seven with no walks.

Troy Ferguson and Ryan Kennedy, the top two hitters in the Tampa lineup, combined for six hits, four runs and four RBIs as part of a 12-hit attack. Kennedy had four hits while Ferguson, Paul Cruz and Junior Mejia all had two hits each.

Chapman got run support early with two runs in the first inning on ground outs by Craig Corrado and Nolan Brannon. Tampa added two more runs in the fourth on Ferguson's double and a single by Kennedy.

The lead increased to 7-0 in the following inning on RBI singles by Roberto Mena, a sacrifice fly from Ferguson and a fielding error by the Screaming Eagles.

The Spartans added their final run in the eighth when Ferguson tripled and scored on a Kennedy single.

Johnny Williams and Craig Benner pitched the final two innings for Tampa, which has not lost in Montgomery since the 2003 tournament when it lost to Central Missouri State in the final.