Gallery: CF Patriots Defeat State College of Florida

The College of Central Florida’s Bradke Lohry (1) celebrates his home run on the State College of Florida as he heads back to the dugout during a baseball game at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, Fla. on Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. The Patriots won the game 12-11. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2023.

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Posted February 20, 2023 | By Allen Barney
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

The College of Central Florida Patriots (14-1) came back from an eight-run deficit to beat the State College of Florida Manatees (10-9) on Monday afternoon.

The Patriots, who suffered their first loss of the season last Friday, fell behind in the first inning when the Manatees first baseman Lucas Ismaili singled to right field to drive in Erick Almonte and give SCF a 1-0 lead.

The Patriots would answer immediately when second baseman Bradke Lohry led off with a solo home run to right-center field. Patriots shortstop Kareh Valentin gave his team a 2-1 lead with a RBI single to right field.

SCF third baseman Kevin Karstetter would give the Manatees a 5-2 lead in the top of the second on a monstrous three-run home run to left-center field.

Lohry would answer with his second solo home run in as many innings to right-center field to cut the deficit for CF to 5-3.

“It felt good, it’s all starting to come together. Hits are starting to fall into place and it’s a good thing for everybody,” Lohry said. Lohry now leads the Patriots with five home runs on the season.

The Manatees extended their lead to 7-3 on a two-run triple by Brayden Woodburn in the top of the fourth. Following Woodburn’s triple, Karstetter drove his fourth run of the day on a groundout to third.

The State College of Florida continued to pounce on Patriots starting pitcher JD Smith when Austin Dearing hit an RBI single to right field and ended Smith’s day after four innings of work.

With a 9-3 lead in the fifth inning, the State College of Florida wanted to add more and did so on two-run single to center field by Ben Gilbert.

With an 11-3 lead, The State College of Florida pulled starting pitcher Michael Forret after five innings of work, Forret finished his outing with seven strikeouts.

With one out and no runners on in the bottom of the sixth, Patriots right fielder Aaron Saltsman laced a triple into the right-center field gap. Lohry drove in Saltsman with a single to right field to make it 11-4.

John Marant crushed the first pitch he saw to right-center field for a two-run home run and the comeback was on for the Patriots. Two batters later, Juan Correa notched a home run to right field, it was his second home run of the season.

The State College of Florida seemed to be out of the sixth inning when Kainen Jorge flied out to right fielder Austin Dearing, but the sophomore dropped the ball when transferring to his other hand and the umpires ruled it a live ball, which allowed Jorge to scamper to third base.

After a lengthy discussion by the umpires, the call was upheld and Valentin smacked a two-run home run to right-center field to close the gap to 11-9.

Left-hander pitcher Isaac Sewell threw a scoreless seventh inning for the Patriots and set the stage for a huge moment in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Carson Bayne led off the inning with a walk before Saltsman and Lohry were retired on a popout and groundout. Marant drew a four-pitch walk to bring Edwin Toribio to the plate.

On a 0-2 count, Toribio crushed a hanging slider to right-center field for a three-run home run to give the Patriots a 12-11 lead, after once trailing by eight in the game.

“Toribio’s been huge for us this year with two-out RBI’s. We’re a talented team and we are going to hit bullpens. We’ve done it in a bunch of games this year, where we hang around until the fourth or the fifth inning,” Patriots head coach Marty Smith said

With a one-run lead, Smith called on his closer Cam Schuelke to nail down the save and get the win.

Schuelke proceeded to retire the side in order in the top of eighth with a strikeout and two groundouts. The Patriots had a chance to score in the bottom of the eighth as they loaded the bases with one out but Marant and Toribio struck out to end the inning.

Schuelke started the top of the ninth by striking out Gilbert before hitting Preston Wetherell with a pitch and walking Almonte. With one out and runners on first and second, Schuelke struck out Woodburn and Karstetter to finish off the 12-11 win.

“I’ve been in so many of those situations before so it’s not nerve-wracking. It’s about bearing down and not messing up. So, I had to lock in and get the job done,” Schuelke said. It was Schuelke’s fourth save of the season.

The baseball season is a long marathon and Manatees head coach Tim Hill II is optimistic his team will bounce back when they play on Tuesday night.

“We have a bunch of games this week and that is a good thing. That’s the great thing about baseball, you don’t have to sit around for a week after a loss. Hopefully, our guys will bounce back tomorrow and figure it out.

The State College of Florida falls to 10-9 on the season and will play the University of Tampa JV at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Karstetter and Dearing finished with three hits each and combined for five runs batted in, Mario Lopez and LT Cockrill each had two hits as well.

For the Patriots, following a trip the JUCO College World Series last summer, the 2023 team is keeping the momentum going with a 14-1 start. Games like Monday where they had to come back from a big deficit is one of the hallmarks of a good team.

“It’s about picking up your teammates. We know that when the offense is down, the pitching is going to do the job. When our pitchers are struggling, the offense will do the job. So, it’s about picking up the next guy and being a good teammate for everybody,” Lohry said.

Lohry and Valentin led the Patriots offense with a combined six hits, three home runs and six runs batted in. Isaac Sewell gave up two runs in three innings of relief and picked up his third win of the season.

The Patriots are at home on Tuesday at 2 p.m. when they face off with the Community College of Baltimore County- Catonsville from Maryland.

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