SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo University baseball team responded from an 8-1 loss in game one and rebounded to defeat the visiting Nova Southeastern Sharks 6-4 in game two on the opening day of a three-game Sunshine State Conference series at a breezy and hot Thomas B. Southard Stadium.
The Lions refused to quit after the first game setback and opened up the scoring in game two. After going scoreless through the first three innings, Jonathan Duncan’s double down the left field line managed to get Bobby Munoz, who was on first, all the way around for the Lions’ first run. A Dale Slimick single later in the inning scored Dustin Brown to push the SLU advantage to 2-0.
The Sharks would respond in the fifth with a Pete Simon homer to right field, but then the Lions would post a three-spot in the bottom of the frame.
After Kyle Hobbs led off with a triple to right center, Duncan would get another RBI by pushing a hit up the middle. After that, and with Duncan and Bobby Munoz on the bags, Dustin Brown would double down the right field line, his hit barely getting past the outstretched glove of the NSU third baseman. His two RBI double would give the Lions a 5-1 advantage.
The Lions would score again in the bottom of the sixth when Jovanni Fiallo reached base courtesy of a wild pitch that hit him in his back. With J.C. Suarez in to pinch-run, the Lions saw two consecutive singles, one from Hobbs and the other from the bat of Munoz, plate Suarez for the Lions’ sixth run of the game.
After tossing a stellar six innings, Saint Leo starter Matt Smith would begin to tire in the seventh. He managed to make it to two outs, but the Sharks managed to score three runs in the frame before Smith surrendered pitching duties to Seth Fowler. Fowler gave up another hit, and the Sharks got the score to 6-4, but then managed to force NSU’s Dale Alberto into a fielder’s choice at second to end the game.
Smith (5-4) picked up his fifth win of the season with Fowler earning his first save. The starter would throw 6.2 innings, surrendering nine hits and four earned runs in the victory.
In the first game the Lions couldn’t find the answer to starting Sharks’ pitcher Miles Mikolas, who scattered seven Saint Leo hits and only allowed an earned run in a complete game appearance.
The Lions’ pitching staff was not so lucky as they saw the Sharks post three multiple-run innings, scoring two runs before Saint Leo had their first at-bat and three runs in the sixth, the big blast in that inning coming on the form of a two-run homer from the bat of Rhys Roberts.
The final run scoring inning in the game came in the eighth when the Sharks saw two hits, including a two RBI double to right-center field by Chris Hamper, to put the final touches on the opening game win.
Jeff Bloomer (3-3) picked up the loss for Saint Leo in game one.
Both teams will conclude this Sunshine State Conference series with a single game tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at Thomas B. Southard Stadium on the Saint Leo campus.