LAKELAND, Fla. – Just two days after receiving a regional ranking of seventh, the Saint Leo baseball team fell to the No. 20 Florida Southern Moccasins by a 6-3 score, Friday night from the Mocs' home stadium at Henley Field. The loss pushed the Lions record to 30-14 on the year.
The contest started as a pitcher's duel, with both teams going scoreless through three and a half innings. It was the No. 20 Florida Southern Moccasins, however, who jumped on the board in the bottom of the fourth to score three runs and take a 3-0 lead. The inning began when the Mocs' Trey Vavra led off the inning with a one-out double to left-centerfield to put a runner in scoring position. One out later, Florida Southern's Dominic Brugnoni blasted an RBI single to centerfield, which Scottie Withrow followed up with an RBI double down the leftfield line. The following RBI single from Joey Miller gave the Mocs three runs on the inning.
Saint Leo responded quickly, adding two of their own runs to the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning. It was junior Bobby Twitty who jumpstarted the Lions' offense when he reached on an error with no outs. A quick single from Chris Newcomb and a sild pitch from the Mocs' pitcher, Clay Chapman, allowed for two runners in scoring position, just in time for an RBI groundout from junior Nick Perez to give the Lions' their first run of the contest. Sophomore Taylor Perez wrapped up the offensive surge with an RBI single through the left side, which put Saint Leo within one run.
Back to back singles and a sacrifice flyout from the Mocs' Joey Miller in the bottom of the sixth extended the Florida Southern lead to 4-2, but the Mocs weren't finished then. In the bottom of the seventh, Florida Southern tacked on two more runs on a walk, an error, and an RBI single from Vavra that scored Keith Curcio and Conner Szczerba, pushing the Florida Southern lead to 6-2.
Saint Leo gathered some momentum in the top of the ninth inning, scoring one run to come within three of Florida Southern. After Bobby Twitty reached on a hit-by-pitch and advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt from the Mocs' pitcher, Nick Krolczyk, a sacrifice flyout from pinch hitter Jordan Taylor gave the Lions another run, but it would not be enough as the Mocs took home a 6-3 victory.
Sophomore Michael Dunnigan took the mound for the Lions in the effort, tossing 6.1 innings before senior Ryan Sadler came in for relief duties. Earning the loss, Dunnigan allowed seven hits and one walk, striking out two in 29 batters faced. In his relief appearance, Sadler threw 1.2 innings, allowing just two hits and holding the Mocs scoreless.
As a team, the Lions earned eight hits on the evening, walking once.
The Lions and Mocs will return to action on Saturday, April 26 when they wrap up games two and three of the Sunshine State Conference series in an afternoon doubleheader. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. at Henley Field in Lakeland, Fla.
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, Instagram, and YouTube.