SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo baseball team refused to go quietly in their series-opening game with Eckerd College as the Lions overcame an eight-run deficit in the eighth inning, but the Tritons scored twice in the ninth to claim a 15-13 victory in Sunshine State Conference action on Friday night.
After scoring a lone run in the first, the Tritons added two in the fourth off of a leadoff homer by Minervino Labrador and an RBI single later in the inning. They would tack on five more runs in the top of the fifth with another Labrador round-tripper and four hits, along with a Saint Leo miscue to take an 8-0 lead.
The Lions cut into the Eckerd lead in the fifth as Kory Wan shot a two RBI single up the middle and then Eugene Garnett blasted a bases-loaded double into left-center field that plated three Lions to cut the EC lead to 8-5.
Eckerd responded with a lone run in the sixth, and two in the seventh and eighth to reclaim a 13-5 advantage, giving the Lions just six outs to try and respond.
The Lions would not need all six outs to tie the game as they scored eight runs in the eighth, with the inning’s big blast coming when Garnett again connected on a bases loaded double to deep right-center that plated three runners and brought the Lions to within one. Dustin Brown would knot the game a couple of batters later on an RBI sacrifice fly to square things up. The inning featured five hits and three walks to draw the game even.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the euphoria of overcoming such a large deficit would be short-lived as Eckerd’s second baseman Stephen Pelc hit what proved to be the game-winner as he lofted a two-on, two-out fly ball to deep center to put EC ahead 15-13.
The Lions would try and rally once again, putting two runners on, but Garnett could not reproduce his magic a third time as he fouled out to first to close out the game.
Garnett would finish the night going 3-for-6 with six RBI as the Lions’ best performer.
Pelc went 3-for-6 with five RBI for Eckerd.
Henry Johnson (3-3) picked up the Lions loss while Johnny Lancaster (4-3) picked up the win for Eckerd, as one of seven pitchers that toed the rubber for the visitors from St. Petersburg.
The two teams will conclude their respective seasons on Sunday afternoon in doubleheader action beginning at 1:00 p.m. Prior to the first game, the Lions will honor their five seniors in a Senior Day ceremony. Seth Fowler, J.C. Suarez, Eugene Garnett Jr., Jovanni Fiallo and Caleb Fuddy will all close out their SLU careers on Sunday.