WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Three Saint Leo University errors accompanied by seven Palm Beach Atlantic hits allowed the host Sailfish to score eight times in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Lions dropped an 8-5 decision to PBA on Friday night.
The loss opens up a two-game weekend slate between PBA and SLU as the two teams will square off tomorrow for another nine inning contest.
Friday night’s game was played at the Santaluces Sports Complex as part of the opening games of the Palm Beach Challenge, an annual month-long series of baseball games that feature teams from every division of the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA competing in “Spring Break” games in South Florida.
Sailfish junior Jeremiah Cothiere (2-0) tossed six innings that included four strikeouts and two walks while allowing six hits and four runs (three earned). Left-hander Alejandro De Moya came on for the three-inning save as he allowed only two hits and one run in his three frames while striking out three batters.
Over the first four innings, both starting pitchers would limit the opposition as Saint Leo (3-7) led 1-0 on a RBI single from second-baseman Ryan Brnovich in the third inning.
Lions’ starter Aaron Brandt (1-2) didn’t run into serious trouble until the fifth inning when he would face five batters, all reaching base and turning the table on Brandt’s solid outing to that point.
A leadoff walk was followed by a single, and then a botched sacrifice bunt laid down loaded the bases with nobody out. Nick Natale then sent a ball to deep right-centerfield that was just beyond the reach of Chris Newcomb that tied the score at 2-2.
A run-scoring single would then follow to plate the go-ahead run. An RBI single followed by another hit would keep the deciding inning going. Luis Mejia would then reach on a throwing error which preceded a bases-loaded walk delivered by reliever Cody Johnson.
A two-run single in the second trip around the PBA batting order would put the score to 8-2, and the frame would finally be concluded on a pop out to second-base.
Although the Sailfish would threaten a few more times during the remaining innings, a pair of key double-plays by the SLU defense thwarted any possible scoring opportunities for the Fish down the stretch.
Despite the loss, the Lions ended the contest with eight base-hits including three by Brnovich who finished 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored.
The Lions will look for a measure of revenge tomorrow as both teams square off in an afternoon matinee. Saturday’s game will take place at Dick Brown Park and first pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.