VALDOSTA, Ga. – The best start of the Russ McNickle era continued as the Lions made a clean sweep of the Comfort Suites Classic on Sunday as Saint Leo handed host Valdosta State a 9-3 defeat in the final day of the tournament.
Valdosta State (1-2) opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning as it plated a single run. Austin Lawrence opened the frame with a walk and moved to second on a balk. Cooper Lemonds followed with a single that advanced Lawrence to third, allowing him to score on a Bruce Jackson ground out.
Staying unblemished, Saint Leo (3-0) took advantage of a pair of walks and two Blazer errors in the third inning to take a 3-1 advantage. Dillion Vitale drew a walk to open the inning before a pair of singles loaded the bases. VSU just missed getting out of the inning as Ryan Brnovich lined into a double play that was just inches away from being a triple play. Chris Newcomb followed with a walk to once again load the bases while a wild pitch allowed Rawdow to score. The throw to the plate by Christian Glisson on the wild pitch hit Rawdow and bounced away, allowing Brendan Collins to score. Anthony Santa proceeded to hit a ground ball to shortstop, but the throw from Zachary Rios eluded Lemonds to allow Newcomb to come home.
Glisson hit a home run in the bottom of the third to pull the Blazers to within a single run, only to have the Lions score three more runs in the fifth as the first four batters of the inning singled. Newcomb provided the big hit in the frame as his single plated both Torres and Brendan Collins while a Zach Miller ground out scored Brnovich for a 6-2 lead for the Green and Gold.
A Marc Overstreet double in the sixth scored Chaz Bagwell to pull the hosts within three runs, only to have Saint Leo respond with a run in the seventh and two more in the eighth.
Glisson and Graves each tallied two hits to lead VSU offensively while Kevin Rogers (0-1) took the loss, allowing seven hits and six runs.
Torres and Collins finished with three hits each to lead Saint Leo, while Rawdow and Brnovich had two apiece. Shaun Gough (1-0) picked up the victory as he surrendered three hits and one run while striking out five in four innings of relief.
The Lions return to Florida and open the home portion of the 2012 schedule when they welcome conference rival Florida Southern into Thomas B. Southard Stadium on Wednesday evening. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. For the latest news, information, and updates on the baseball team, visit SaintLeoLions.com.