Lions Start off Hot with 2 Wins in Season Opener over UNG

DAHLONEGA, Ga. – In their season opener at the University of North Georgia on Saturday, the Saint Leo baseball team collected their first wins of the year. After defeating the Nighthawks by a 16-6 score, the squad turned around to hand them another 7-3 loss.

In the first game of the afternoon doubleheader, junior righty Liam O'Sullivan took the mound, tossing six full innings before senior Shaun Adams came in for three innings of relief. O'Sullivan tallied seven strikeouts in his debut, while Adams tacked on another in the bottom of the ninth. The pair also combined to allow just four walks in the effort.

Despite two innings with a tie 0-0 score to start the contest, the Lions offense exploded in the top of the third, as Saint Leo took a 6-0 lead. It was senior Michael Callahan who jumpstarted the inning, drawing a walk. Dale Irving, Alex Mata, and Nick Perez then strung together 3 back-to-back hits to score three runners and put the Lions on the board. One walk and two outs later, senior Fran Whitten sent a three-run homerun screaming over the left-centerfield fence to give the Lions a six-run lead.

After the Nighthawks scored three in the bottom of the fourth to cut the deficit to 6-3, hits from Taylor Perez, Cole Stancil, Dylan Harris, and Michael Callahan, tacked on 4 to the Lions lead. The hit from Harris, a homerun over the left-field fence, signaled the rookie's first homer with the Lions.

Although North Georgia was able to score one run in the bottom of the sixth and two in the eighth inning, another Saint Leo run in the sixth and seventh innings, plus four more runs in the ninth were enough to send Saint Leo back to the dugout with a 16-6 victory.

Fifteen Saint Leo players took the field in the first game of the doubleheader, with eight newcomers earning their first appearance donning the green and gold. The team combined for 17 hits in the win, earning 15 RBI and six walks. Saint Leo batters tallied 43 at-bats in the contest.

After a short break, the teams did battle for the second time that afternoon, and Saint Leo walked away with another victory, this time in the form of a 7-3 win.

It was the Nighthawks, this time, who scored first in the game, putting two runs on the board in the third inning to take their first lead of the day. Refusing defeat, the Lions retaliated in the fifth inning to tie the score. In the top of the sixth, Saint Leo tacked on another two, though North Georgia answered back in the bottom of the inning to score one.

Heading into the seventh with a 4-3 score, neither team plated a run in the inning, but Saint Leo returned in the eighth with another run, and sealed the victory in the ninth with two more, cruising to a 7-3 victory.

In the second win of the day, the Lions collected 11 hits, five walks, and seven RBI. The pitching staff, consisting of Kevin Games, Michael Dunnigan, and Brandon Terry, combined for seven strikeouts and just five walks. In his debut with the Lions, Games earned the win, while senior veteran Brandon Terry notched his first save of the 2014 season.

The Lions will return to action tomorrow when they face the North Georgia Nighthawks to wrap up the three-game series. First pitch for the single game is set for 1:00 pm.

For more on the Saint Leo baseball team, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Also, be sure to 'Like' Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook and 'Follow' the Saint Leo Lions on Twitter and Instagram.