WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Right handed starter Eoin McAvinchey turned in a stellar performance in Saint Leo baseball's biggest game of the season to date, scattering five hits and striking out five to lead the Lions to a 5-2 victory over No. 12 Minnesota State, Tuesday night at the Chain of Lakes Complex.
McAvinchey faced 23 batters over his six-inning start, improving his record to 1-2 on the season. He retired the Mavericks in order in the first and fourth innings, and did not walk a single batter.
Reliever Zach Whitaker picked up his second save in as many nights, after coming on in the seventh with two runners on and none out. He induced a grounder to first, a pop-up to third base, and struck out MSU's Cody Ulfers for the final out of the inning to get the Lions out of the jam.
Whitaker recorded four more strikeouts over the eighth and ninth inning, while allowing just three hits.
Saint Leo (9-6) scored all its runs in the sixth inning. Lane Stancil led the inning with a single to short, and eventually ended up at third on a stolen base and a Brett Coffel base hit. Alex Mata's single to center field plated Stancil, knotting the game at 1-1. Shane Williams provide the go-ahead runs with his single to left-center, driving in Mata and Coffel.
Nick Boland had a two-out base hit into right field to keep Saint Leo's momentum going in the sixth. Zach Scott extended the Lions' lead to 5-1 on the next at bat with a triple to right center, plating Boland and Williams.
Minnesota State (4-4) got one of the runs back in the ninth, but would get no closer. The Mavericks' Jordan Hart reached on a single to right, and was doubled home by Luke Waldek with two outs to cut the final margin to 5-2.
Stancil, Coffel, Mata, Boland, and Scott each had a pair of hits for the Lions, while Williams and Scott each charted two runs batted in. Mata's RBI gives him 153 for his career, tying him with Cliff Champion (1984-87) for third among Saint Leo's all-time RBI leaders.
For Minnesota State, Hart tallied three hits in his four at bats, accounting for half of the Mavericks' offensive production. Teddy Petersen logged a pair of hits. MSU starter Quinn Ahern took the loss after yielding four runs, all earned, on six hits and two walks.
Saint Leo returns home on Wednesday night to face No. 24 Catawba College (13-5) at 6:00 p.m. at Thomas B. Southard Stadium.
For more information on the Saint Leo baseball program, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.