ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – After struggling through a cold weekend in Georgia, the Saint Leo baseball team warmed things up as they put one of their best performances of the young season together in trouncing the host Eckerd College Tritons 9-3 in a non-conference matchup on a chilly Tuesday evening at Turley Field on the Eckerd campus.
In their first of five matchups during 2010, the game began as a pitcher’s duel as starters Aaron Brandt and Jake Wilder breezed through the first two innings, both overcoming fielding errors to keep the game scoreless. It wouldn’t be until the top of the third inning that Saint Leo (2-3) made their statement.
The inning started with newcomer Ryan Brnovich getting hit by a pitch and senior J.C. Suarez shooting a single up the middle to put two on with no one out. Senior Eugene Garnett Jr. would then single to center to load the bases, leaving the door open for newcomer Ware Hart, whose fielder’s choice to second allowed Brnovich to plate the game’s first run.
After two quick outs, including a sacrifice fly to right field by sophomore Dustin Brown, Mississippi State transfer Ryan Powers swatted a two-run homer over the left-field fence to put the Lions up 4-0.
The four-spot in the third inning would mark the first of four-straight innings where the Lions would see at least one run cross the plate. Heading into the sixth leading 6-2, the Lions again saw Brnovich get on base to lead off the inning. Some well placed hits through the infield and two consecutive passballs allowed Saint Leo to stretch the lead to 9-2, more than enough for Brandt and the SLU pitching staff.
Brandt (1-1), making his second start of the season, evened his record as he tossed six complete, allowing just two earned runs while walking two and striking out three.
The sophomore would surrender the hill to a reliever combo of Henry Johnson and Jamie Tutko, who tossed the final three innings to seal up the win.
Powers picked up the Star of the Night Award as he went 3-for-4 with a home run, a walk and four RBI. Right behind him was Brnovich with a 3-for-4 effort as well. The SLU rookies were two of six total Lions who notched a multiple-hit evening against Eckerd pitching.
Senior short stop Matt Heller was the Tritons (5-2) lone bright spot with a 3-for-4 night and an RBI. Wilder (0-2) picked up the loss after a four-inning effort where he was responsible for five of the Lions’ runs. He was the pitcher of record for both of the Tritons’ losses.
Saint Leo will return to Southard Stadium on Wednesday night where they will finally open the home portion of their schedule as they play host to Southeastern University. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.