Trailing 3-2 with two out and the bases empty in the bottom of the ninth inning, Polk State rallied for a 4-3 win over Palm Beach State College tonight in Winter Haven.
After the first two Eagles hitters were retired, Brandon Gali kept the ninth inning alive when he lined a 2-2 pitch into left field for a single.
He stole second and scored the tying run when Kaylor Kulina singled to right on a 1-2 pitch.
Then, with Luke Parker at the plate, Kulina stole second and hustled to third when the catcher's throw sailed into center field.
With the count at 2-2, Parker fouled off two straight pitches before taking a ball. On the next pitch, with a 3-2 count, Parker hit a high chopper to third. Racing down the line, he just beat the throw to first as Kulina crossed the plate with the winning run.
It marked the second straight game the Eagles have won in the bottom of the ninth
"I thought our guys locked it in in their last at-bats," said Head Coach Al Corbeil.
"Brandon with two outs had a really-really good at-bat and hit the line drive to get it going, and then Kaylor had the base hit down the line, so that was big. And then to see Luke battle with two strikes and put a ball in play and beat it out was big.
"That's what we need to do. When you start having more competitive at-bats like that then the rest will take care of itself.
"The last inning is how all of our at-bats need to be. If the hitters take that kind of intensity into every inning, I think we can turn some things around offensively."
The two teams traded scoreless innings until the bottom of the fourth when Kyle Jackson led off the inning by getting hit with a pitch. He moved to second on Matt Piatt's single and scored on Zack Bullard's single.
The Panthers came right back in the top of the fifth, scoring two runs on an error and three singles.
Palm Beach increased the lead to 3-1 in their half of the sixth on a double and a single with two outs.
The Eagles made it 3-2 in the eighth when Parker singled with one out, Jackson walked, and Piatt reached first on an error to load the bases. JD Osborne's sacrifice fly scored Parker from third.
Joe Strzelecki pitched the ninth inning and got the win, his first of the season. He struck out two of the three batters he faced.
Starter Brad Labozetta pitched six innings, allowing six hits, three runs (one earned), walking one, and striking out six.
David Lara pitched to one batter to start the ninth.
Kulina (two-for-five) had a run, an RBI, and a stolen base.
Parker went one-for-four and scored a run.
Jackson (one-for-one) walked twice, stole a base, and scored a run.
Gali had a one-for-two night with a run and two stolen bases.
Osborne had one RBI and Piatt had two hits in four at-bats.
With the win, the Eagles improved to 5-4 and have a winning record for the first time this season. They travel to Palatka tomorrow for the St. Johns River State College Tournament. They face Broward College at noon and Gulf Coast State College at 3 p.m.