SAINT LEO, Fla. – On a busy Saturday at the Saint Leo University campus you may have missed something rather special happen at Thomas B. Southard Stadium.
While softball and lacrosse were at their respective fields in playing big regional contests, the Saint Leo baseball team managed to pick up two decisive Sunshine State Conference victories as they trounced the seventh-ranked Lynn University Fighting Knights, winning Game One 12-6 and getting a clutch performance from their bullpen to pick up the 7-3 Game Two win.
Game One saw utility player J.C. Suarez take the mound and give the Lions eight strong innings, allowing six hits and just three runs. That was more than enough support as the Lions’ bats smacked out 20 hits over the course of the game.
Facing Fighting Knight hurler Tommy Kahnle, who’s fastball tops 95 miles per hour, the Lions jumped all over him early, as the second batter of the inning, senior Bobby Munoz, smacked a two-run homer to right field. Freshman Dustin Brown, trying to do one-better than Munoz, smacked a three-run jack over the right-center field fence to put the Lions up 5-0 in the first without registering an out.
Munoz was at it again in the second inning as he launched a two-run blast out of right-center field to extend the Lions’ lead to 7-1.
After Lynn slowly chipped away at the Lions’ advantage, dropping it to 7-3 after five innings, the Green & Gold dropped another five-run inning on the Fighting Knights in the bottom of the sixth. The biggest hits coming from the bats of Jonathan Duncan, who launched the Lions’ fourth homer of the day, and from Eugene Garnett, who welcomed new Lynn pitcher Sam Jones by smacking a two-run double that hit the center field wall.
The second game saw the Lions’ bats pound out five singles in the first inning that plated three runners, putting Saint Leo ahead early, but the Fighting Knights would slowly cut away at the advantage.
After Lynn scored two in the second and a single run in the third, the Lions answered with four runs in the bottom of the frame.
With a leadoff walk by Duncan, followed by an Aaron McLamar single that put runners at the corners and a Dustin Brown double to center that scored Duncan, the Lions set themselves up for one last big hit. Garnett, who had a clutch hit in Game One, swatted a fastball over the left field wall for a three-run homer that gave the Lions a 7-3 lead.
After that, the SLU coaching staff turned to reliever Ryan Arena, who came up roses for the Lions. The sophomore left-hander from Tampa, Fla. came in and tossed 2.2 innings and only allowed two singles to give the Lions a solid performance from their bullpen. The pitcher of record when Saint Leo took the lead in the third inning, Arena picked up his first decision of 2009.
Today’s doubleheader sweep for the Lions gives Saint Leo their first Sunshine State Conference series win of the year and it comes against the nation’s one-time top-ranked team.
The Lions will take a break from SSC play as they travel to Warner University on Tuesday for a rematch with the Royals. Saint Leo managed a 3-2 win over Warner at the end of February at home. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. in Lake Wales, Fla.