Sanford rode the arm of starting pitcher Kyle Bird (Florida State), who pitched 5.1 innings, allowing just three runs on four hits to gain the victory in his first playoff appearance. Bird was dominant, throwing a shutout until the fifth inning.
The Rats got on the board first in the top of the third inning. Tyler Lesch led off with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice by Alex Mendez. Andrew Brodbeck (Flagler) followed with a single, but Leach was thrown out at the plate trying to score and Brodbeck wound up on second. Keith Curio (Florida Southern) knocked a single down the third base line that just trickled into the left field grass allowing Brodback to skate home with no throw.
Sanford added three more in the fifth inning. A hustle play brought home the first run of the inning as Spencer Hermann (North Florida) legged out an infield single, diving safely into the first-base bag. Meanwhile, Curcio, who was on second after a single and a stolen base, snuck around third and headed for home to score easily. Sam Halpern (Barry) was then hit by a pitch and both runners advanced on a wild pitch before scoring and a Nico Delerme (East Stroudsburg) single.
The Rats had a chance to tack on to the lead when Tyler Lesch (USC-Upstate) singled with Delerme on second. However, right fielder Jovany Felipe (Miami Dade CC) threw a frozen rope to home where catcher Darryl Knight (Seminole State) applied the tag for the final out of the inning. Still, the Rats enjoyed a 4-0 advantage heading into the bottom of the fifth.
The Monarchs responded immediately in the bottom of the inning with a two-out rally. Following a strikeout and ground out to begin the inning, Gadier Charriez (Southwest Tenn. CC) drew a walk, Anthony Stewart (Iowa Lakes CC) singled and Blake Prince (Seminole State) walked to load the bases. David Lee (Bethune-Cookman) made it count with an infield single to bring home Charriez. On the same play, a throwing error allowed Stewart to make his way home and cut the Sanford lead in half, at 4-2.
Orlando brought the score even closer in the sixth, plating a run thanks to an RBI groundout by Albert Lefran (Lake Sumter CC) to plate Bryan Hill (Union College). With a runner on third and two outs, relief pitcher Jason Boyer (Florida Tech) was able to kill the rally with a strikeout to end the inning.
The Rats added some insurance in the bottom of the eighth, as Curcio ripped a one-out triple down the left field line with Mendez (hit by pitch) and Brodbeck (walk) aboard. The two-run three-bagger increased the Rats’ lead to 6-3.
Sanford increased the lead even more in the top of the ninth with a pair of runs. Drew Weeks doubled with one out and Lee Howard walked and Weeks scored on a wild throw as he was stealing third and Mendez then singled in Howard.
The Rats’ bullpen would take care of the rest.
Boyer pitched 2.2 innings, allowing no runs on just one hit while striking out a pair and Jordan Strittmatter (USF) finished things off in the ninth.
Strittmatter walked the first batter of the inning but induced a pop out before a line drive found the glove of the third basemen Curcio, who promptly doubled up the runner at second base to put a cap on the game.
Curcio led the way for the Rats with three hits and three RBI. Brodbeck tacked on three hits as well, while scoring a pair. Delerme and Alex Mendez (USF) added a pair of hits as well.