SAINT LEO, Fla. – With one swing of Jason Hamm’s bat, the Saint Leo baseball team may have that season-changing win that has eluded them for so long this year. Facing Warner University, the senior took an 0-1 pitch in the 12th inning and deposited it against the left field wall, breaking an 11-all tie and handing the Lions the win. The marathon ended 12-11 in the Lions’ favor in non-conference action on Tuesday night from Thomas B. Southard Stadium.
It was a back-and-forth game throughout the entire four hour and 20 minute marathon that originally saw the Lions respond from a 4-0 and 7-2 deficit to take an 11-7 lead into the sixth inning.
The four-run lead would slowly evaporate over the course of regulation, finally drying up in the top of the ninth when the visiting Royals loaded the bases. The tying run would score when the Lions’ pitcher hit the batter on the second pitch. In the frame, Warner (24-20-1) would score a run and see four players touch a base without getting a single hit.
Saint Leo would be solid in pitching duties during the extra frames, shutting the visitors from Lake Wales down in the three bonus innings.
On the offensive side, the Lions loaded the bases in both the 10th and the 11th innings, both with just one out. With Warner following typical baseball strategy, the Royals intentionally walked at least one batter in each frame to pack the bases and managed to get the Lions to pop themselves out of the victory each time.
The magic would finally strike in the 12th when Frank Rawdow drew a two-out walk, bringing up Hamm to close things out.
While one swing was all many would remember from this win, this game wasn’t without its share of defensive web gems that kept the visitors off the board. Dustin Brown’s laser-throw from right field in the sixth inning caught a Warner runner trying to score, ending the frame with just two Royal runs crossing home.
SLU first baseman Anthony Santa snagged a two-on, two-out line drive to end the next inning, again keeping the visitors from retaking the lead. Third baseman Nick Gill would do the same in the 11th with a man on second, keeping the visitors from the extra-inning advantage.
Jamie Tutko (1-1) would earn the win for the Lions while Kyle Janovsky’s (0-2) admirable 7.1 innings of action would ultimately end with the Hamm double, his only run surrendered.
With Hamm’s game-ender, he capped a 5-for-7 night with two RBI and two run scored.
The win sends the Lions back into Sunshine State Conference play hopefully on a high. Saint Leo will welcome Nova Southeastern University into Southard Stadium for a three-game series beginning on Friday evening. Game one is scheduled to get underway at 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening.