FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – If it feels like a dark cloud is hovering over the Saint Leo baseball team, it may be taken quite literally as the Lions surrendered a 4-1 lead in a driving rainstorm to fall to Nova Southeastern 5-4 in the opening game of a Sunshine State Conference series at the NSU Baseball Complex on Friday night.
Jumping out to a 4-1 lead after the first four innings, the Lions, behind starter Marshall Stalvey, had everything going for them. Saint Leo (17-28, 4-12 SSC) managed to get out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the sixth, and even saw the luck fall their way on a foul ball in that frame. Brayan Valencia lofted a ball down the third-base line where Kory Wan would camp underneath it; the ball would hit the palm of Wan’s glove and fall into Ryan Powers’ bare hand, as he was next to Wan in perfect position.
With those type of plays, including a ‘Web Gem’ quality 1-to-3 putout where Stalvey flipped a roller with his glove to J.C.Suarez, who barehanded it for the out, it felt as if the breaks, and the game, were going the way of the Green & Gold.
It was not to be as Mother Nature decided to put her mark on the game.
Still leading into the eighth, the Lions took the field just six outs from the win when the skies opened up on the SLU defense. Matt Smith, in relief of Stalvey, managed two outs, but the host Sharks would load the bases and cut the lead to 4-3 as Smith was having control problems resulting from the monsoon. Catcher Matt Fisher ripped the first pitch of his at bat into left field to score two runners and give the Sharks the 5-4 advantage.
After Smith managed to get the next batter to line out the skies cleared and Nova Southeastern took the field with near-perfect playing conditions.
NSU (27-17, 9-7 SSC) would manage to put the Lions down in order in the final frame to sneak away with the one-run win.
The Lions saw an outstanding outing from Stalvey, who finished with five-plus innings under his belt as he held NSU to just one run on four hits.
Ryan Brnovich went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Jovanni Fiallo went 1-for-3 with two RBI in the loss.
The Lions will still get a chance to pull out the series with the Sharks as both teams will square off in doubleheader action on Saturday afternoon. First pitch of game one is set for 1:00 p.m. at the NSU Baseball Complex on the Nova Southeastern campus.