SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo baseball team had a busy Friday afternoon as they squared off against two separate teams in non-conference action that spanned 18 innings at Thomas B. Southard Stadium. The Lions needed some ninth-inning magic to defeat Bentley 6-5 in the first game, and then overwhelmed American International College 13-0 in the nightcap.
Game one saw the Lions offense generate two early runs as starting pitcher Aaron Brandt tossed seven innings and only allowed Bentley (7-8) to plate one run, surrendering pitching duties to Eric Nickolaison at the start of the eighth. When Brandt’s day was done, he turned a 4-1 lead over to the SLU bullpen in the eighth inning.
The Lions added another run in the eighth to set themselves up for an easy 5-1 win over the Falcons, but Bentley would rally in the ninth.
The visitors from Waltham, Massachusetts put runners on the corners with one out and saw a sacrifice fly plate a run to make the score 5-2 but put the Lions a single out away from the win. Bentley got another single up the middle to put runners at second and third. That hit convinced the Saint Leo coaching staff to turn to their closer, Caleb Fuddy, to get the game’s final out, but instead, Fuddy’s first pitch to Nick Damato was launched into over the left-center field wall, tying the game at five.
The Lion offense, determined to get the win, came out all business in the bottom of the last frame. A leadoff hit and then a fielding error put the first two Lions on base. An unsuccessful bunt attempt saw the lead runner get caught at third, but SLU still had two on with just one out.
Saint Leo junior Eugene Garnett stepped into the batter’s box and promptly swatted a game-winning double into deep left-center field that scored Bryan Davis to finally let the Lions celebrate the victory.
Game two belonged to one man, Saint Leo starting pitcher Seth Fowler.
Fowler tossed a gem as he went a complete nine innings, allowing five hits and keeping the visiting Yellow Jackets off the scoreboard. The 6’3” junior was so dominating in the second game that American International (1-9) only saw one runner touch third, and that was the second batter of the game.
At one point in the game, he sent 16 straight Yellow Jackets back to the dugout before a two-out single in the seventh inning saw AIC’s first batter reach base since the leadoff batter of the second inning.
In the meantime, the Lion bats stayed red-hot as they jumped out to a 6-0 lead after three innings and managed 15 hits throughout the contest. The plethora of SLU offense included round-trippers from Kyle Hobbs, Jonathan Duncan and Jason Hamm as SLU also knocked out five doubles in the victory.
Jonathan Duncan went 4-for-5 in game one with an RBI as SLU saw five starters post multiple hits on the evening.
The evening game belonged to Hobbs at the plate as he went 5-for-5 with four RBI, a run scored and the second-inning homer to dead-center that may have been the longest ‘tape-measure’ blast so far this season.
Saint Leo (10-15) will welcome Bentley back to Southard Stadium one more time as the teams square off for a third time on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.