SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo freshman Taylor McGillis stroked a one-out, 2-1 pitch into right-center field to score Ryan Powers as the Lions completed a ninth-inning, come-from-behind win to defeat Saint Anselm College 11-10 in the series-finale on a blustery night from Thomas B. Southard Stadium.
The Lions (6-11) had to fight from behind from the beginning of the game as the visiting Hawks scored in the top of the first inning. Answering that run with one of its own in the bottom of the first, Saint Leo watched as Saint Anselm batters blistered SLU starter Adam Albers for six runs in the second inning. The inning started on a sour note when the first batter of the frame, left fielder Rett Ostafin knocked the first pitch of the inning over the left field wall. That would be the first of six runs the Hawks would score in the second.
Scoring four runs in the bottom of the second as the first five batters reached base, SLU would cut the deficit to two at 7-5 but would struggle to close the gap.
Saint Anselm (1-4) would add three more runs in the top of the fourth and the Lions would answer again in the bottom of the stanza with a two-spot of their own, but Saint Leo would find the margin widened by a run as the teams headed into the home-stretch with Saint Anselm leading 10-7.
After the fourth, Saint Leo relievers Cody Johnson and Matt Smith would shut the visitor’s bats down, and the Hawks would only slug six of their 17 hits after the last run-scoring frame.
The Lions would begin to cut into the Saint Anselm lead with two runs in the sixth, led by a Powers leadoff double and a J.C. Suarez bases-loaded walk to cut the advantage to 10-9.
Saint Leo would save the nail biting for their final two frames as SLU tied the game in the eighth when they capitalized on a fielding error to begin the inning. Suarez would come to bat later in the inning and hit a two-strike double down the left-field line to score the game-tying run.
After a scary top of the ninth, where a muffed throw with two-down continued the inning and put a Hawk runner at third, the Lions survived to get to the bottom of the inning.
Prior to McGillis hitting the game-winner, the Lions put the winning run on base as Powers led off with a double to centerfield. A bunt single by Ryan Brnovich moved Powers to third and Head Coach Russ McNickle pulled the freshman from Evansville, Ind. off the bench to send the Lions fans home happy.
Upperclassmen Powers, Suarez and Eugene Garnett Jr. all had impressive nights at the plate as Powers went 2-for-3 with an RBI and three runs scored. Suarez posted an identical hit total but plated three RBI and Garnett Jr. went 3-for-4 with an RBI.
The Hawks saw six batters post multiple hits as designated hitter Robert Kelly went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Matt Smith (2-3) came in to shut down the Hawks in the final two innings as he earned the win while Timothy Cooley (0-1) was on the mound when McGillis stroked the game-winner.
After playing five games in three days, the Lions will take a few days off before hosting American International College on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at Thomas B. Southard Stadium.