SAINT LEO, Fla. – Aaron McLamar, who had been struggling through an early-season slump, busted out of it in a big way as he came off the bench to hit the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning that gave the Saint Leo baseball team an 8-7 win over Bentley University on Wednesday night.
After the score stayed knotted at seven through nine, the Lions and Falcons gave fans some bonus baseball at Southard Stadium.
The Lions (1-8) had chances in both of the extra frames as they put a man in scoring position with just one out in the 10th, but a strikeout and lineout got Bentley out of the inning and sent the game into the 11th.
After the Lions recovered from a two-out double by Bentley in the top of the 11th, Saint Leo saw another runner get on base when JC Suarez singled through the right side with one out. Suarez then put himself in scoring position as he stole second just a few pitches later.
After Bentley (0-4) put two outs on the board with a hard-hit line-drive out to right field, McLamar stepped up and swatted a single into right. Suarez, guided by head coach Russ McNickle in the third base coaches box, never thought about stopping at third as he rounded the bag at full speed headed for the deciding play at the plate.
The Lions’ first baseman approached home about the same time the Bentley right-fielder’s throw reached the catcher’s glove, but the angle of the throw, slightly high and to the outside of the plate, allowed Suarez to slide under the tag. After the umpire’s emphatic safe signal, the Saint Leo dugout exploded into celebration as they swarmed Suarez, then took the jubilation over to McLamar.
Coach McNickle and his staff finally had a chance to sit back and savor their first win in the Green & Gold.
The Lions didn’t get into that extra-inning thriller without a few miracles during the game.
After getting on the board first, with a two-spot in the second inning and another run in the third, the Lions watched their lead slip away in a two-inning stretch where Bentley scored six runs.
The Falcons first dented the scoreboard in the fourth when a fielding error opened the inning and a two-out double down the right-field line by first baseman Garrett Stenhouse plated two Bentley baserunners.
After a scoreless fifth inning, the sixth saw a pitching change wake up the Bentley bats. A two-out, two-run single followed by a long-ball from the bat of centerfielder Brett Damato saw BU plate four runners to put Bentley up 6-3.
Saint Leo scored two in the seventh when a triple from the bat of Kyle Hobbs scored JD Cook and a suicide-squeeze from the bat of Suarez plated Hobbs to put the Lions within one.
After Bentley answered with a lone run in the eighth, SLU knotted the score in the bottom of the frame with a single swing from the bat of Jason Hamm. The Lions catcher deposited a Dean Sandonato pitch into the net over the left-field wall that scored two runs and tied the score at seven, setting the stage for McLamar’s 11th inning heroics.