SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo baseball team was on the cusp of celebrating their first win of 2009 in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Valdosta State, but the Blazers spoiled the celebration as they rallied in the seventh inning to stun the Lions 9-8 in NCAA South Region baseball action from a gorgeous Thomas B. Southard Stadium.
After the Lions dropped the first game with a 14-8 decision, Saint Leo jumped on the Blazer pitching early in the nightcap.
With Kyle Hobbs and Aaron McLamar on base, and two outs, Dustin Brown knocked a first-inning triple into the right-centerfield gap. An errant throw that bounced off of Brown and into the outfield allowed the right-fielder to trot home putting the Lions up 3-0.
Saint Leo starting pitcher Seth Fowler cruised through the first and second innings but ran into trouble in the third when the first two VSU batters reached base. The next batter, Brandon Decker, knotted the game at three with one swing of his bat, driving the Fowler pitch over the right-field wall.
The Blazers would go ahead in the next frame when Decker blasted another round-tripper, this time to left-field for a two-run Valdosta lead.
The Lions and Blazers would trade runs over the next two innings as the game headed into the sixth tied at six where one swing of the bat put Saint Leo in position for the victory.
Hobbs stepped up to the plate and stroked a pitch over the left-field wall to put the Lions up 7-6 and give the Blazers just three outs to try and tie it up.
After the Lions got two outs and put two runners on, a stolen base and an apparent third strike that was not called set the Blazers up for the rally opportunity. Pinch-hitter Logan Pierce laced the next pitch just past the extended glove of the Lions’ centerfielder allowing the tying run to score. The next batter hit a shot to shortstop, but a fielding error on the SLU first-baseman allowed two more runs to cross the plate, putting the visitors up 9-7.
In the bottom of the inning the Lions rallied, scoring one run and loading the bases, but pinch-hitter Jovanni Fiallo struck out swinging to end the Lions hopes of a win, and giving Valdosta State a three-game sweep of Saint Leo.
For the entire day, Matt Smith (0-1) and Aaron Brandt (0-1) were saddled with the Lions’ losses on the mound, while Brown had an unbelievable day, going 7-for-8 between both games and getting three RBI.
Saint Leo will try again on Wednesday as they face Bentley College in a 5:00 p.m. contest at Thomas B. Southard Stadium on the Saint Leo campus.