SAINT LEO, Fla. – The visiting University of Tampa took the first game of a three-game Sunshine State Conference series as the Spartans claimed an 8-4 win over Saint Leo on Friday night at Thomas B. Southard Stadium.
Delayed an hour and 10 minutes by lightning at the start, it was a game where the visiting Spartans (20-5, 3-4 SSC) frustrated the Lions with an answer every time Saint Leo scored. A two-run homer by Tampa in the fourth got the scoreboard leaning in its favor, but Saint Leo (18-9, 3-4 SSC) would answer with a single run in the bottom of the inning.
Tampa answered that lone tally by the Lions with a four-spot in the fifth inning as four hits, and a Saint Leo error helped give the visitors a commanding 6-1 lead.
The Green and Gold would put a dent into the UT advantage in the bottom of the eighth with a Chris Newcomb two-run home run, but Tampa again answered with two in the top of the final frame.
Going seven-plus innings, Tampa's Ben O'Shea (3-1) picked up the win, while Saint Leo starter Aaron Brandt (4-3) was saddled with the loss. Evan Stobbs picked up his sixth save of the season for the Spartans.
Brendan Collins had another nice night at the plate, albeit in the losing effort, as he went 3-for-4 and Newcomb went 2-for-5 with two RBI on the round-tripper.
The Lions will look to draw even in the conference series when the two teams square off in doubleheader action on Saturday afternoon. The Lions and Spartans will get game one underway at 1 p.m. at Southard Stadium.