TAMPA, Fla. – Unable to transfer last night’s thrilling win into motivation heading into today’s contest, the Saint Leo baseball team dropped both ends of a Sunshine State Conference doubleheader to the University of Tampa with 7-2 and 3-2 decisions that leaned in UT’s favor on Saturday afternoon.
The Spartans won the three game series and improve to 24-9 and are now 8-4 in the Sunshine State Conference while the Lions fall to 10-21 overall with a 2-10 record in conference play.
In game one, and in similar fashion to Friday night’s game, the Lions got on the board first with a pair of runs in the initial frame when Ryan Powers drove home a run and Chris Newcomb scored on a wild pitch.
Tampa responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning, starting when a single up the middle was mishandled by the SLU defense, allowing two runs to cross the plate. It marked the first error for the Lions in 19 innings of play, their longest errorless streak of the season. An RBI single brought home a UT base runner and gave Tampa a 3-2 advantage, one they would not relinquish through the remainder.
After the Spartans tacked on a run in the second on back-to-back doubles, the lead was extended further in the fourth inning on an RBI double and a two-run single.
Starting Tampa pitcher Frank DeJiulio (4-2) put together seven solid innings and was backed by an outstanding offensive effort. All but one Tampa starter managed a hit while five Spartans put together a multi-hit game.
Cody Johnson (1-3) started for the Lions and was charged with the loss, lasting just 2.1 innings.
Game two led off with a quick two run lead for the Spartans as a base hit plated Patrick Donahue who singled to start the first inning. Trace Venegas smacked a two-bagger down the left field line to score the other run of the frame, giving Tampa a 2-0 tally.
The Spartans would tack on an important insurance run in the fifth by way of a two-out RBI single up the middle, bringing Donahue around to score his second run of the game. The eventual game-winner signaled another unlucky break for Saint Leo as the hit came on a 0-2 count and was barely contacted, just enough to fall safely as a hit. A play at third base during that same exchange saw the Tampa base runner get thrown out just a split second after the UT runner advancing to home touched the plate.
Saint Leo scored a run in the sixth as Anthony Santa picked up an RBI single to end the five inning shutout. The Lions would add another run in the inning to pull within one of the Spartans 3-2 lead. Tampa managed to squeeze out of a possible big inning for the Lions as Saint Leo loaded the bases with no outs. The Lions were only able to get two runs across before the frame ended.
The Lions will remain on the road as they conclude their longest road trip of the season when they face Palm Beach Atlantic in a midweek game in Palm Beach, Fla. The Wednesday night game is scheduled to get underway at 6:00 p.m.