SAINT LEO, Fla. – Despite rallying for leads in both contests, the Saint Leo baseball team fell to the No. 1 Tampa Spartans in both games of the Saturday doubleheader. After suffering a tough 4-3 loss in the first game of the day, the Lions lost the seven-inning game by a 9-8 score.
During the first matchup of the afternoon, the Spartans scored early, taking a one-run lead in the top of the first and tacking on another in their half of the second.
After the fourth, both teams went scoreless until the ninth inning, when No. 1 Tampa rallied for two more runs off two hits, a sacrifice flyout, and a Saint Leo error. With the Lions unable to answer back in the bottom of the ninth, the Spartans collected their first win of the afternoon.
The second game of the day looked much like the first, as the Lions fought for a lead and later lost it. Unlike the first two games of the series, however, it was Saint Leo who scored first, after Chris Newcomb picked up a leadoff double in the first and the following single from Taylor Perez scored him.
The Spartans answered back quickly, earning two runs in the top of the second thanks to a single, two doubles, and a passed ball opportunity.
After Tampa picked up a run in both the third and fourth innings to force a 4-1 lead, Saint Leo exploded on offense in the fifth, rallying for five runs. The inning featured three walks, one hit-by-pitch, one error, a wild pitch, and one Lions' hit.
No. 1 Tampa retaliated in the top of the sixth, scoring two runs to tie the game at 6-6. In the bottom of the inning, however, the Lions forced two more runs off a two-run double from senior Fran Whitten.
With an 8-6 lead in the favor, Saint Leo headed into the seventh and final inning, but the Spartans forced a three-run rally that would eventually decide their victory. After two Tampa strikeouts to start off the inning, the Spartans strung together three singles and three free trips to first base to score three additional runs and take a 9-8 lead. Trailing by one, the Lions were unable to score in the bottom of the inning and walked away with their third and final loss of the series.
Nine Saint Leo pitchers appeared during the doubleheader, combining for 15 strikeouts and allowing 18 hits and ten walks. Liam O'Sullivan collected the loss in game one, while senior Shaun Adams earned his first loss as a Lion in game two.
Offensively, the Lions' squad earned 18 hits on the afternoon to score ten earned runs. In addition, Saint Leo tallied six walks and four extra-base hits.
The Lions will return to action on Tuesday when they host the visiting Valdosta State University Blazers. First pitch for the regional contest is set for 6:00 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.