MELBOURNE, Fla. – Backed by a stellar pitching performance from sophomore starter Michael Dunnigan and reliever Brandon Terry, the Saint Leo baseball team defeated the Florida Tech Panthers by a 6-3 score, Friday night from Andy Seminick-Les Hall Field. Snapping a four game losing streak, the victory marked the Lions' first Sunshine State Conference win this season.
Dunnigan took the mound for 7.1 innings in the Lions' win, allowing eight hits and striking out eight in over 120 pitches thrown. Senior lefty Brandon Terry finished off the game, allowing just three hits in 1.2 innings of relief.
After a scoreless first outing, a Florida Tech homerun in the bottom of the second tied the game at 1-1.
Responding quickly, Saint Leo tacked on two runs in the top of the third. After freshman Alex Mata led off the inning with a two-out single, an RBI single from Harris gave the Lions a 2-1 lead. Two pitches later, senior Chris Newcomb blasted an RBI double down the leftfield line to plate Harris and go up by two.
Though the Panthers picked up another run in the bottom of the fourth inning, senior Fran Whitten took back the Lions' two run lead with a solo homerun over the leftfield fence in the top of the fifth. With two outs in the books, Harris again got the Saint Leo offense going with a single to centerfield, which Newcomb followed up with another single. With two runners on, it was sophomore Cole Stancil who sent a hard groundball through the right side, clearing the bases and giving the Lions a 5-2 lead.
Neither team scored in the sixth or seventh innings, though both teams threatened. It what was the most pivotal situation of the game for the Lions, Saint Leo recorded a bases loaded two-out pickoff in the bottom of the seventh to finish off the inning and hold off Florida Tech from scoring.
Despite a 5-2 lead, the Lions refused to let up, scoring another run in the top of the eighth off a solo homerun from junior Bobby Twitty.
Florida Tech responded in the bottom of the eighth to pick up one run and bring the score to 6-3 in favor of Saint Leo, but that was the end of their offense.
After a scoreless ninth inning for both teams, the Lions' cruised to their first Sunshine State Conference victory of the season with a 6-3 victory.
As a team, Saint Leo earned 14 hits on the evening, walking twice earning all five of their runs.
Saint Leo and Florida Tech return to action tomorrow, March 29, when they close out the second and third games of the Sunshine State Conference series in an afternoon doubleheader. First pitch is set for 12:00 p.m.
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