Coffel single lifts baseball to walk-off win over #23 Fla. Southern

Coffel single lifts baseball to walk-off win over #23 Fla. Southern

SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo sophomore Brett Coffel's one-out pinch hit single to center field in the bottom of the ninth inning plated redshirt junior Dylan Harris for the game-winning run, lifting the Lions to a 5-4 walk-off victory over No. 23 Florida Southern in Friday night's first game of a three-game Sunshine State Conference baseball series.

Saint Leo had to battle back from a 4-1 deficit after four innings to earn the victory, which was the Lions' fourth win this season over a nationally-ranked opponent.

The Lions cut the margin to 4-2 in the fifth when Derek Gibree reached on a one-out single, and later scored on Lane Stancil's base hit to left field.

Two more Saint Leo runs crossed in the sixth to tie the game up at 4-4. Tate Sweatt got aboard with a two-out double to right field, and scored on Zack Sabo's single into left field.

Sabo immediately crossed for the game-tying run on Alex Mata's single through the right side – a base hit that allowed Mata to tie the Saint Leo career hits record. The fifth-year senior from Fort Myers, Fla., now has 269 career hits, matching the total currently held by Trevor Hall and Matt Gifford.

Saint Leo threatened to take the lead in the seventh with runners on first and third with one out, but Florida Southern reliever Tyler Knowles fanned two Lions to get out of the inning.

The Mocs squandered their best chance to claim the win in the eighth, when Florida Southern loaded up the bases on Saint Leo's Jordan Pendleton with two outs. Senior Zach Whitaker came on to strike out Jason Sierra and end the threat, and then retired the Mocs in order in the top of the ninth for the win.

Saint Leo starter Tyler Bauman logged 12 strikeouts over his six complete innings of work in the no-decision outing, allowing four runs on seven hits. Bauman, Pendleton, and Whitaker combined to chart 16 strikeouts while holding Florida Southern to just nine hits.

The Lions finished the game with 12 hits, with Harris pacing the Lions with two singles and his third home run of the season – a solo shot to right field in the first inning. Stancil and Sabo had two hits each.

Florida Southern answered Harris' round-tripper with a run in the second inning, then plated their remaining runs on Cody Burgess' three-run home run to left field in the fourth. Austin Mauer and Mitch Reeves added two hits apiece to the Mocs' cause.

Saint Leo improved to 22-25 overall with the win, 7-15 in the SSC, while Florida Southern fell to 33-14, 11-11 SSC, with the loss. The teams will conclude the series on Saturday, May 13, with a doubleheader starting at 1:00 p.m. "Senior Day" recognition for Saint Leo's nine seniors will begin at 12:40 p.m.

For more 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.