LAKE WALES, Fla. – A ninth-inning rally to overcome a two-run deficit came up short as the Saint Leo baseball team fell 5-4 to Warner University in non-conference action from a windy Royals Field on Tuesday afternoon.
The Lions put themselves in a perfect position for the comeback as they entered the final frame staring at a 5-3 deficit. Eugene Garnett managed a one-out single into left-field followed by a walk to Jason Hamm to put two Lions on base. J.D. Cook followed that by a single into left to score Garnett, cutting the Royals’ lead to one and keeping two runners on.
A fielder’s choice and a hit batter saw the bases loaded with two outs for SLU shortstop Bobby Munoz. Munoz took the count to 2-2 and then watched as a breaking pitch crossed the plate low and outside. A questionable called third strike on that pitch ended the game with the bases loaded as the comback effort came up short.
Saint Leo started the game off in fantastic fashion as they plated three runs before Warner had their first opportunity to swing their bats.
After Kyle Hobbs recorded the first out of the game, Munoz and Jonathan Duncan hits consecutive singles off of starting Royals’ pitcher A.J. Holbeck.
With two runners on, Sunshine State Conference Player of the Week Aaron McLamar showed why he earned the award as he lofted a shot down the right-field line that withstood the wind to give Saint Leo a 3-0 lead.
A Saint Leo pitching lineup that saw starter Cory Casuso tossed only a planned three-innings and would feature six SLU hurlers, would slowly allow the Royals back into the game with a two-run third, the tying run in the fifth and the go-ahead run to cross the plate in the seventh inning.
A fielding error in the bottom of the eighth inning proved to be the difference-maker in the game as it allowed a runner to reach base. That runner would eventually come around to score to put the Royals up 5-3 as the teams headed into the final frame.
Dale Slimmick (0-2) was the unfortunate pitcher of record as he was on the mound when the Lions surrendered the go-ahead run, while Holbeck (4-0) picked up the win for Warner.
The Lions now turn their attention back toward the Sunshine State Conference as they host sixth-ranked Florida Southern College in an Alumni Weekend series. The first game will get underway at 7:00 p.m. at Thomas B. Southard Stadium on the campus of Saint Leo University. The game will also be carried live on the Saint Leo Lions AudioCast Network.