BABSON PARK, Fla. – The Saint Leo bats came to life just a few innings too late as a ninth-inning rally ended with the tying run on third base as the Lions’ baseball team fell 5-4 to the host Webber International Warriors in action at the Heart of Florida Medical Center Field on the Webber Campus on Wednesday evening.
SLU starting pitcher Austin Buck put together a solid four innings of work as he only surrendered one earned run in the third inning as the Warriors got a two-out, RBI-single to take the lead. Aside from that run, Buck kept the host Warriors off the board while scattering five hits.
The WIU lead would be short-lived as Saint Leo (15-20) knotted the score in the top of the next frame when a Dustin Brown single into left field put the sophomore on base with just one out. Brown would be driven home as Ware Hart singled up the middle and Brown would beat the throw to the plate to draw the game even.
The game would stay even into the fifth inning when Webber retook the lead for good on another single, this time with two-outs.
Webber (19-19) would manage to extend the advantage to 5-1 in the seventh with SLU reliever Caleb Fuddy was greeted with three singles and a walk as he could not manage an out, allowing three runs in the frame. Fuddy would give pitching duties to Marshall Stalvey, who would get out of the frame.
Saint Leo (15-20) would see their bats spark to life in the top of the final inning as Ryan Powers led off the frame with a triple down the right field line as the Lions attempted to cut into the four-run lead. After a walk to Hart put two on with no outs, Blake Turner entered the lineup and stroked a 1-1 pitch up the middle, scoring Powers and advancing Hart to third. A sacrifice fly-out from Jovanni Fiallo cut the lead to 5-3 with a runner in scoring position.
After a strike out to put two outs on the scoreboard, Ryan Brnovich’s single up the middle advanced Turner to third and put two on with two out. The next batter, J.C. Suarez would add another single to the SLU hit total as his hit scored Turner and put Brnovich, the tying run, at third base.
Trying to tie the game, Eugene Garnett’s fly-ball to right field would be snagged by the Webber fielder to end the game at 5-4.
In earning seven hits, the Lions scattered them throughout the lineup with the top five hitters in the SLU order posting a hit.
Relieving Buck, Corey Marcus (1-1) was saddled with his first loss of the season as he was the pitcher of record when WIU scored the go-ahead run.
In a rotation that saw seven pitchers take the hill, Jason Benkert (1-0) picked up his first decision as he tossed one inning when his team took the lead.
Saint Leo will now return home to kick-off a nine-game homestand with a Sunshine State Conference series against the 4th-ranked Tampa Spartans on Friday night. Game one is scheduled to get underway at 6:00 p.m. at Thomas B. Southard Stadium on the Saint Leo campus.