VALDOSTA, Ga. – After having the start to their season pushed back a day because of rain, the Saint Leo baseball team got their 2010 season underway as they split an Opening Day doubleheader with host Valdosta State University on Saturday afternoon.
Saint Leo (1-1) jumped out to the early lead in the first game as it took advantage of a throwing error to late a run in the top of the first inning. Senior J.C. Suarez reached on the error by VSU and a walk and a ground out moved Suarez to third, allowing him to score on a balk by Blazer starting pitcher Ross Gusky, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead.
Newcomer Ware Hart walked and stole second before coming home on a Kory Wan hit to push the SLU lead to 2-0 while the Lions added two more runs in the fourth. Each of the first three Saint Leo batters reached on walks before the Blazer starter recorded a strike out for the first out. A ground ball to short appeared to get him out of the inning, but another error, this time by the shortstop, allowed Ryan Powers to score. Suarez proceeded to lay down a bunt to plate Hart for the fourth Lion run of the game.
Valdosta State (1-2) evened the game in the bottom of the sixth. Valdosta’s Jon Koenigsfeld was hit by a pitch to open the inning and moved to second as Brandon Decker followed with a base hit to left. Jake Summers doubled to center to plate Koenigsfeld while Decker came home when Clayton Cain grounded out to short. Austin Smith was hit by a pitch to put two men on, allowing Summers to score on a Jordan Yost single while Jordan Hollis walked to load the bases. Lion reliever Henry Johnson came on and balked before throwing a pitch, plating Smith to tie the game at 4-4.
Saint Leo quickly regained the lead as Wan walked to open the seventh inning and moved to second on Ryan Brnovich's bunt single. Another Suarez single plated Wan while Brnovich advanced to second on a throwing error by VSU reliever Kyle Rowe and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jason Hamm.
Back-to-back singles by Koenigsfeld and Decker allowed Summers to hit a sacrifice fly to close VSU back to within 6-5, but Ryan Gawrych walked and stole a pair of bases before scoring on a throwing error by Hollis to close out the scoring.
H. Johnson (1-0) allowed two hits and run in two-thirds of an inning to pick up the win while Rowe (0-1) surrendered three hits and two runs, only one of which was earned, in three innings in the loss.
The host Blazers never trailed in the second game as they scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. VSU’s Summers singled to open the inning and two batters later moved to second on a Bobby Triglia base hit. Chaz Bagwell reached on an infield single to load the bases while Summers and Triglia proceeded to come home when Antonio Clark reached on a throwing error by Brnovich at second base to give VSU a 2-0 lead.
Valdosta State pushed the lead to 3-0 on a home run in the fourth before Saint Leo struck for two runs in the fifth. Ryan Powers singled and moved to second on a fielding error in left field to open the inning and, after a pair of outs, scored when Wan doubled to right. A Brnovich single to right proceeded to score Wan to cut the Lions’ deficit to just a lone run.
The Blazers closed out their scoring in the bottom of the fifth as Koenigsfeld, Valdosta’s biggest threat of the day, singled with one out before Decker pushed him to second with a base hit. Another base hit drove home Koenigsfeld while Decker moved to third on a Summers hit and scored when Smith was hit by a pitch.
Brett Kennedy surrendered five hits and two runs while striking out seven in a complete game effort to improve to 1-1 for Valdosta State. Sophomore Aaron Brandt (0-1), in his first start of the season, took the loss after giving up nine hits and five runs in four and a third-innings.
The Lions open the home portion of their schedule on Tuesday night as they host Sunshine State Conference foe Florida Southern in non-conference action. First pitch is 6:00 p.m. at Thomas B. Southard Stadium on the Saint Leo campus.