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Three Home Runs Pace Eastern Florida Past Palm Beach State 9-4

March 12, 2014 - Freshman leftfielder Christian Diaz hit two home runs and sophomore shortstop J.J. Gould added a third as Eastern Florida State defeated Palm Beach State College 9-4 on Wednesday at Bruce Bochy Field on the Melbourne Campus.

Diaz hit a two-run home run to tie the game at 4-4 in the sixth inning. Gould clubbed a two-run shot in the seventh to give the Titans an 8-4 lead and Diaz followed him to the plate and hit his second homer for the final margin.

Eastern Florida's second Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference victory over Palm Beach in two days moved the Titans to 4-2 in the conference and 14-7 overall. Palm Beach State fell to 3-4 in the conference and 15-11.

Three Titans pitchers – starter and freshman lefthander Nick Sucarichi - right-handed reliever Josh Smith and right-hander Jesse Schullstrom limited the normally hard-hitting Panthers to six hits.

Smith got the win after relieving Sucarichi in the sixth when Palm Beach scored twice to take a 4-2 lead. Smith allowed one hit in three innings of work and Schullstrom struck out the side to finish the game.

Offensively Eastern Florida collected nine hits with Diaz going 3-for-4 and collecting three runs batted in; freshman second baseman Nick Capra collecting two doubles and two runs batted in; and freshman centerfielder Austin Pereira also getting two doubles.

Sophomore first baseman Jack Machonis had a single and two runs batted in.

"We did a great job on Tuesday and won a tough game and anytime you can win the first game of a series you can relax a little bit," said Eastern Florida head coach Jeff Tam. "You still have to play the game and play it hard and grind it out. We were fortunate . . . we saw some good pitches and we put great swings on them. The boys did a great job."

As for the pitching: "They did a great job," Tam said. "We pounded the zone, we changed speeds, we made pitches in tough situations. Shore up the defense a little bit and it's even better than that.

"I couldn't be happier right now."

Speaking of happy Diaz was all smiles after the game.

"Coach Tam and Coach (Jose) Soto and Coach (Oscar) Restrepo have really been keying me on my approach because I try to get too big," Diaz said. "Just let my hands do the work."

Diaz hit what he called two mistake fastballs for his home runs.

Gould hit a fastball that was up and away as the Titans won their third straight game and their fourth in their last six.

"We have pretty good chemistry as a team right now," Gould said. "We just come out here and try to have fun because when you have fun that's when you play the best."

Next up for the Titans is a two-game series at last year's regular-season conference champion Miami Dade College. Games are at 4 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.