TAMPA, Fla. – “Unbelievable, but I knew they could do it.”
Those words from Head Coach Russ McNickle echoed those of the good amount of Lions’ fans in attendance as the Saint Leo baseball team upset the ninth-ranked University of Tampa on the road in Sunshine State Conference action on Friday night.
The upset came at the perfect time for the Lions as it halted a nine-game winless streak, with the right arm of Aaron Brandt doing most of the work.
After scoring two runs in the first, Brandt (3-4) led the Saint Leo (10-19, 2-8 SSC) defense as he tossed 7.2 innings only allowing the top-10 Spartans a lone run through the first six. Although he tired in the seventh and allowed three runs in the frame, Austin Buck relieved the Lions’ starter to close out the game getting three clutch strikeouts to earn the save. Brandt allowed four runs on eight hits and struck out four Spartans.
SLU would add a run in both the fifth and sixth innings as a Ryan Powers double and a sacrifice fly credited to Lion outfielder Ware Hart to score one each.
It would be the Saint Leo bats that would finally come to life, as Lion hitters smacked 13 hits, including clutch run-scoring drives with runners on base.
The Lions would also go perfect in the field as it was the host Spartans who would commit two errors to keep Saint Leo innings alive.
Ryan Powers was one of four Lions with multiple hits as he went 2-for-4 with two RBI in the win.
With the upper hand in the SSC series, the Lions will look to claim their first series win as they conference showdown continues tomorrow with the first game of a doubleheader starting at 1:00 p.m.