SAINT LEO, Fla. – Despite trailing 3-0 for the first three innings, the Saint Leo baseball team (8-3) defeated the visiting Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish (5-8-1) by a 14-7 score, Friday night from Thomas B. Southard Stadium. Sophomore RHP Michael Dunnigan earned the win in the regional contest to improve to 2-0 on the year.
After the Sailfish recorded three runs in the top of the first inning, the Lions went scoreless until the bottom of the third, when the Saint Leo offense exploded for five runs. Sophomore Taylor Perez led off the inning with a one-out single, and a double from senior Fran Whitten gave the Lions two base runners. A sacrifice fly from Cole Stancil and a single from Bobby Twitty scored the pair, and it was Dylan Harris who singled to again give the Lions two runners. Back-to-back doubles from junior Jordan Taylor and freshman Alex Mata wrapped up the five-run inning for the Lions.
Though the Sailfish rebounded in the top of the fourth to score two and tie the game, the Lions responded with a three-run inning in the bottom of the fifth to take back the lead. Dylan Harris, Alex Mata, Dale Irving, and Nick Perez all registered hits in the go-ahead inning.
Both teams went scoreless in the sixth, but Palm Beach Atlantic picked up one in the top of the seventh to cut the Lions lead to 8-6. In the bottom of the inning, however, the Lions tallied two more runs when the Sailfish pitching staff walked in two.
Holding the Sailfish to one run in the eighth, the Lions' offense again exploded in the bottom of the inning to earn four runs and force a 14-7 lead. Hits from Dale Irving, Nick Perez, and Michael Callahan, followed by two Palm Beach Atlantic errors would define the Lions' lead and earn the squad a regional win.
Sophomore Michael Dunnigan started the game on the mound for the Lions, tossing 7.2 innings and allowing 14 hits before senior Brandon Terry came in for the save. Dunnigan improves to 2-0 on the year, while Terry picks up his third save of the season.
The Lions will return to action tomorrow, March 1, when they wrap up the series against Palm Beach Atlantic in an afternoon doubleheader. First pitch for the first contest is set for 1:00 p.m. at Thomas B. Southard Stadium.
For more on the Saint Leo baseball team, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Also, be sure to 'Like' the Lions on Facebook and 'Follow' Saint Leo Athletics on Twitter and Instagram.