ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Two errors in the deciding eighth inning cost the Lions a chance at a win as the Saint Leo baseball team fell to Eckerd College 7-5 in the opening game of a three-game Sunshine State Conference series on Friday evening from Eckerd’s Turley Field in South St. Petersburg.
The Lions (6-14, 1-3 SSC) had the rally on their side as they rebounded from an early 3-0 deficit to tie the game in the sixth inning. Two of the three runs came courtesy of an Aaron McLamar blast that hugged the left-field foul pole, staying fair long enough to end the shutout. After McLamar’s homer, the Lions put another runner on base and then left-fielder Eugene Garnett shot a ball into the gap that knotted the game at three.
SLU took the lead at the top of the next frame as a Dustin Brown double into the right-center field gap scored Jonathan Duncan to put the score at 4-3 in favor of the Lions.
After EC knotted the score in the bottom of that frame, the bottom of the next inning was where the miscues hurts Saint Leo.
Eckerd (11-7, 1-0 SSC) put their first batter on base in the eighth inning, but Saint Leo pitcher Caleb Fuddy got the next batter to lace a ball right back to him. Fuddy, attempting to start the 1-4-3 double play, whirled around a zipped the ball toward second base. The throw was inches behind JD Cook’s glove and sailed into center. Instead of a two-out situation, now Saint Leo was faced with two-on and no outs.
The second error occurred after SLU intentionally walked the bases loaded. The next batter hit a grounder directly toward third base, but instead of corralling it, and throwing home to start the 5-2-3 double play, the ball worked its way between McLamar’s legs and into left field, scoring two runs and handing Eckerd a lead they would not relinquish.
When the Lions recorded the inning’s final strike out, the line score saw three runs score on two hits and all three runs were unearned.
The Lions tried another rally in the ninth, but SLU would leave the tying run at second base as a staring strikeout ended the game.
Fuddy would be the pitcher of record for the Lions and would fall to 0-3 for the season. Eckerd pitcher Francisco Collazo (2-1) would come in to earn the win after three innings of work.
Duncan managed to get two of SLU’s six hits as he went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and McLamar had the long blast to earn two RBI.
These two teams will square off again on Saturday afternoon in doubleheader action from Turley Field. The first game is scheduled to get started at 1:00 p.m. from South St. Petersburg.