SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo baseball team had to pull off some ninth inning magic, but managed to get some timely execution as they rallied to defeat Warner University 3-2 in action at a cool and breezy Thomas B. Southard Stadium on Tuesday evening.Freshman JD Cook capped off an impressive night at the plate as he curved a fly ball just inside the right-field line to score Jonathan Duncan in the bottom of the ninth inning to break a two-all tie and hand the Lions victory in a game they never trailed.
Although the Lions needed the ninth-inning heroics, the evening belonged to Saint Leo pitching, specifically junior Jeff Bloomer. The 6’1” transfer dominated the Royals through seven innings, only surrendering four hits and no runs. Bloomer nearly posted double-digit strikeouts with nine for the evening as he allowed three singles through the infield and one bunt single.
In the meantime, the Lions' bats were kept at bay through four frames, but Saint Leo would strike for two in the fifth inning.
After Cook’s first RBI single up the middle scored Jonathan Duncan and put J.C. Suarez on third, some crafty play calling by Head Coach Russ McNickle plated the Lions’ other run when SLU executed a perfect double steal that saw both runners end up safe at second and home.
Bloomer would continue his work for two more innings before surrendering the ball to reliever Cody Johnson, who also maintained the shutout into the ninth, but the Lions would run into the trouble in the final frame.
Stephen Daneman toed the mound for the final inning, but quickly found himself in trouble as the first two Warner batters successfully reached base.
After a sacrifice bunt advanced the runners and a sacrifice fly scored one, Daneman faced Royal third baseman Ryan Carnley with two outs and the tying run on second base. Carnley would rip a liner through the left side that left fielder Eugene Garnett could not corral in time for a play at the plate as Warner would knot the game at two and set up the final inning heroics.
Cook would get two of the Lions’ four hits, finishing the night 2-for-4 with two RBI in the victory.
The Lions take a couple days to ready themselves for a long stretch of Spring baseball as they next face Merrimack College in an afternoon doubleheader on Saturday; the first of six games in four days. The first pitch of game one is set for 1:00 p.m.