Lions Fall to Barry in SSC Series Opener

SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo baseball team was unable to answer six Barry University runs scored between the second and fourth innings as the Lions dropped the opening game of a three-game Sunshine State Conference series 8-3 to the Buccaneers at Southard Stadium on Friday night.

"We got beat in every phase," Head Coach Russ McNickle said of the Lions' series-opening setback.  "Their starting pitcher, Brad McAllister did a great job; we never made an adjustment with him.  Defensively we made three errors. Offensively we had chances, but we didn't execute.  Barry beat us.  They beat us in three phases and when that happens you're not going to win many games."

Saint Leo (15-7, 2-2 SSC) opened up the scoring in the first inning as leadoff hitter Ryan Brnovich came out swinging, smacking the first pitch he saw into right field.  The Lions' second baseman would later score when Anthony Santa grounded into a double play.

The advantage would be short-lived as Buccaneer bats caught up to Saint Leo starter Aaron Brandt (4-2) starting in the second inning.  Barry (10-9, 4-0 SSC) would tie the game in the second, take the lead in the third with a two-run shot from the bat of designated hitter Tim Blackmon, and ultimately chase Brandt from the game with a three-spot in the fourth.

The 6-1 advantage would see the Lions leave eight of their nine runners on base in scoring position as Saint Leo failed to capitalize on opportunities with less than two outs. In addition, the visitors from Miami Shores, Fla. managed to get the leadoff runner on base in six of the nine innings in the contest.

Saint Leo relief pitching was a highlight for the Lions as three relievers; Brandon Terry, Matthew Hewitt and Henry Johnson combined for nearly six innings of work, allowing the Bucs to plate just one earned run.

McAllister (2-0) tossed six complete innings, allowing two runs and six hits.  He fanned just three Lions but worked efficiently, needing only 81 pitches.

Brandt picked up the Lions' loss, going three-plus innings and surrendering those six runs, all earned.

The first two hitters in the Lions' lineup did the most damage with Brnovich going 2-for-4 and Chris Newcomb posting a 3-for-5 night with an RBI.

"This is home turf," McNickle said when asked about preparations for tomorrow's doubleheader against the Buccaneers.  "You've got to win games at home and so hopefully we'll find out what kind of group we have.  I'm excited about coming back and playing tomorrow because I believe in this team and I think they'll bounce back. It'll start on the mound."

The Lions will look to rebound from tonight's loss when they continue the SSC series with Barry on Saturday afternoon. First pitch for game one of the doubleheader is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Southard Stadium.  For the latest news, information, and updates on the baseball team, visit SaintLeoLions.com.