SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo baseball team will play host to the University of Tampa Friday at 7:00 p.m. and in doubleheader action on Saturday at 1:00 and 4:30 p.m.  The Lions look to put their 2010 losing streak to the Spartans to a halt as they will finally face UT in a Sunshine State Conference series at Thomas B. Southard Stadium. 

Last time Out…
SLU dropped a non-conference game to Webber International University on Wednesday night in Babson Park, Fla.  The Warriors defeated the Lions 5-4 in a game that saw 14 pitchers and a ninth inning rally by the Lions fall short with a runner on third.  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.  Saint Leo 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 center fielder to end the game.

Offense…
Ryan Powers leads a Lions’ roster that is fourth in the conference in hitting.  Although the shortstop is in a slump, he is still hitting .386 with 49 hits (second in hits on the team), 14 doubles (first on the team) and a team leading 43 RBI.  First baseman J.C. Suarez, leads the Lions in triples with four and is tied for the team lead of 14 stolen bases with Dustin Brown.  Senior outfielder Eugene Garnett Jr. leads the Lions with five home runs. 

Pitching…
The Lions will send out Land O’Lakes, Fla. native Matt Smith to the mound during Friday’s prime time game.  Smith will be making his ninth start of the season with a record 4-5 and an ERA of 6.11.  He has tossed 53 innings, allowing 36 runs on 55 hits.  Smith is nine strike outs away from exceeding his season mark as a Lion of 48 in 2009.  Marshall Stalvey leads the Lions staff with an ERA of 4.22 and a record of 2-4.  He has given up 23 earned runs in 49 innings while walking 16 and striking out 46.  He has held the opposition to a .275 batting average.  Sophomore, Aaron Brandt is coming off an outstanding performance last Saturday in a 3-1 victory over Barry University, with the best record on the staff of 4-1 in eight starts.  Brandt allowed 20 earned runs in 40 innings while striking out 27. 

National Rankings…
The Lions are ranked 13 in the country in triples with 13, Suarez’s four triples are 11th in the country and Brown’s three is 28th.  SLU is 14th in stolen bases with 67. Suarez is 35th and Powers and Brown are tied for 50th in hits.  Powers has 43 RBI which is 21st in the country.  On the defensive side, the Lions infield has turned 37 double plays which are good enough for second in the country. 

About the Spartans…
The No. 4 Spartans jumped two spots in the recent NCBWA poll that was released on March 29th.  The SSC’s top-ranked baseball team is on their largest consecutive win streak of the season with 19.  Tampa just took the three-game series with the No. 15 Florida Tech Panthers, 8-3, 7-2, 7-1.  The Spartans are first in the league in hitting with a batting average of .366 with 362 runs on 454 hits and 54 homeruns.  Mike Schwartz is second in the conference batting a .427 in 27 games.  UT’s pitching is ranked second in the conference with an ERA of 3.94 with a record of 30-5 and 11 saves. 

The game on Friday night and the first game on Saturday will be broadcast on the Saint Leo Audiocast network.   You can follow play-by-play live stats by clicking SaintLeoLions.com.