Lions Defeat No. 3 Tampa in SSC Action; Fall 2-1 in the Series

TAMPA, Fla. – The Saint Leo baseball team split a Sunshine State Conference series doubleheader against the No. 3 University of Tampa, defeating the Spartans 7-3 in game one and falling by a score of 6-5 in game two.

Tossing 7.2 innings in game one and taking home the win was senior Rick Teasley. Senior Adam Albers also made an appearance, in which he collected his fourth save of the season. The Lions' pitching staff combined for eight strikeouts in the game, allowing just six Tampa hits and walking three.

Saint Leo took to the bases first in the first game of the day, scoring two runs in the top of the second inning before Tampa could plate any. Senior Kory Wan started the inning for the Lions with a one-out single through the right side before stealing second base. Senior Dillon Vitale then sent a single to right field that allowed him to take second and Wan to reach third. One out later, junior catcher Daniel Torres roped a single up the middle that scored both Wan and Vitale to give the Lions a two-run lead. 

The Lions also tacked on two more runs in the top of the third inning, thanks in large part to timely hits. Junior Chris Newcomb led off the inning by laying down a bunt single, and after junior Bobby Twitty singled up the middle and senior Taed Moses walked, the Lions had bases loaded. Senior Frank Rawdow then stepped to the plate and sent a long sacrifice fly ball to left field, allowing Newcomb to score. On the next play, Wan singled up the middle for his second hit of the game, scoring Twitty and putting the Lions up by four.

After Saint Leo tacked on another run in the top of the fifth inning from hits by Torres and Twitty, the Spartans were able to score their first run in the bottom of the fourth inning from an RBI hit from Tampa's Jake Schrader.

The Lions scored again in the top of the seventh inning off of an RBI hit from Rawdow, but Tampa answered back in the bottom of the eighth when the Spartans' Tyler Ding sent an RBI double to right-centerfield that scored two runs. Despite Tampa's attempts at offense, Saint Leo scored again from an RBI double from Rawdow that would eventually end the game.

The Lions offense collected 13 hits in game one of the doubleheader, in comparison to Tampa's six.

Game two of the day began and ended much unlike the first game of the doubleheader, as the Lions fell to the Spartans by a score of 6-5, and utilized six pitchers in the seven-inning game.

The Spartans scored first in the game for the first time during the conference series, collecting four runs off Saint Leo pitcher Charles Neely in the bottom of the first inning from two homeruns and three Tampa hits.

With the Lions unable to answer back in the top of the second inning, the Spartans scored again in the bottom of the second off of back-to-back hits from Tampa's Connor Obrochta and Michael Danner.

With a solid force on the mound for Tampa in the form of Jon Keller, it was not until the top of the third that the Lions were able to plate a run, when senior Ryan Brnovich led off the inning with a single and eventually scored on a throwing error from the Spartans' catcher.

Two innings later, the Lions plated two more runs to put the score at 5-3 in favor of the Tampa Spartans. With one out, Vitale singled up the middle, and the Lions placed pinch runner Kory Wan on first base in his place. Wan then stole second base, and when Twitty advanced to first base on a walk, Wan took third as well. One out later, Twitty took second base on a wild pitch, just before senior Michael Revell singled to right field to score Wan and Twitty and reduce the deficit to two.

The Lions repeated their efforts in the top of the sixth, scoring two more runs to tie the game at 5 runs. It was Torres who led off the inning with a one-out single up the middle, and Brnovich followed with a hit-by-pitch to give Saint Leo two base runners. Both runners advanced on a passed ball, and after a key Saint Leo strikeout by Tampa pitcher Caleb Kellogg, Bobby Twitty sent an RBI single up the middle that scored two runs and tied the game. The hit signaled the continuation of Twitty's 20-game hit streak.

With neither team able to score in the bottom of the sixth or the top of the seventh, Tampa's Zach Alvord stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh and blasted a double to lead off the inning. After a Saint Leo pitching change, the Lions were able to collect an out on a Tampa sacrifice bunt but Alvord moved to third on the play. After yet another Saint Leo pitching change, Tampa's Michael Danner singled through the right side for the walk-off win. 

In addition to Neely, pitchers Brandon Mumaw, Matt Hewitt, Austin Buck, Adam Albers, and Brandon Terry all saw time on the mound during the second game of the doubleheader. 

The Lions return to action on Monday, Mar. 18 when they take on Mansfield University in home action from Thomas B. Southard Stadium. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 3 p.m. 

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