SAINT LEO, Fla. – Freshman right-hander Aaron Brandt did exactly what Head Coach Russ McNickle wanted him to do through seven innings of play. His outstanding pitching kept visiting Lynn University at bay, but the seventh-ranked Fighting Knights struck for six runs in the top of the eighth en route to a 10-7 victory over the Lions in Sunshine State Conference action on Friday night from Southard Stadium.
Brandt ran into trouble in the second inning as Lynn used a fielding error and a couple of timely hits to jump out to a 2-0 lead, but Saint Leo responded in the bottom of the fourth when Aaron McLamar rocketed a no-doubt, two-run home run out of straightaway center field that knotted the game at two.
Both teams plated runs in the sixth inning, the Lions’ run coming on a McLamar laser into the left field corner that scored Bobby Munoz, but it was the seventh inning that the Saint Leo bats would get them the lead.
A one-out walk and a stolen base put Jason Hamm in scoring position, where J.C. Suarez brought him around to score as he ripped a double down the left-field line to give the Green & Gold a 4-3 lead.
Brandt came out in the top of the eighth and managed two strikes on Lynn center fielder Daniel Flores, but the Lions’ pitcher would leave a pitch in the zone which Flores promptly deposited into the batting cages over the right-field fence to tie the game.
After hitting the next batter, Brandt struck out his final hitter of the evening before giving way to the Saint Leo bullpen. After Cody Johnson managed to get the next batter to fly out to right-center field, LU’s catcher, Kyle Holloway would hit a two-run homer over the left-field wall to give the Fighting Knights a lead they would not relinquish, despite a Lion ninth-inning rally.
With the score a 10-4 entering the bottom of the ninth, Lynn Head Coach Rudy Garbalosa turned to his bullpen, which proved to be shaky as well.
The Lions would see six walks and score three runs without getting a single hit. With two outs, the bases loaded and the winning run at the plate, Lions’ freshman Dustin Brown drove a 3-2 pitch to the warning track in right field where LU’s Jason Ten Eyck snagged it to end the game.
Brandt dropped his season record to 0-3 despite tossing 7.1 innings and striking out six. He allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits and one walk to a team that averages over 10 runs per game.
Despite the final-inning walk-a-thon by his bullpen, Lynn starter Dan Wright improved to a team-best 7-1 as he went eight complete, only allowing four runs on eight hits.
McLamar was the star of the game for the Lions, despite the loss, as he went 2-for-4 with four RBI. The Saint Leo senior has managed three home runs on five hits and 10 RBI in this week’s contests.
The Lions and Fighting Knights finish off this Sunshine State Conference series with a doubleheader tomorrow beginning at 1:00 p.m. The first game will be carried live on the Saint Leo Lions AudioCast Network.