SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo baseball team was one out shy of claiming the series-opening win over visiting Palm Beach Atlantic, but an unfortunate bounce allowed the tying run across as PBA went on to eventually claim an 8-7 win in NCAA South Region action on Friday night from Southard Stadium.
Jumping out to a 7-0 lead after just two innings, the Lions (19-12) seemed to be in solid control of the game, taking a five run lead into the sixth inning, but PBA's bats would respond in a big way.
Four PBA (14-11) runs in the sixth ended the night for Saint Leo starter Aaron Brandt as a pinch-hit RBI single and a long two-run home run on Brandt's final pitch cut the deficit to 7-6.
The Lions would manage to hold the Sailfish a single run shy until things moved into the final inning. Two of the first three batters reached base, the first on a walk and the other on a 1-2 hit-by-pitch allowing PBA to put a runner in scoring position. A fly out to right field allowed the runner at second to move just 90 feet away from scoring. The game-deciding play saw a hot shot hit directly to the Saint Leo shortstop, but just before hitting his glove, the ball took a bad hop and hit him in the chest. Unable to control the ball, the runner advanced home and tied the game on the unfortunate miscue.
The next batter would rip a shot down the left field line, scoring the go-ahead run and making it eight unanswered runs against Saint Leo pitching.
PBA relief pitching would star in the victory as relievers Andres Lopez and Kenny Frosch went 7.1 innings, shutting down the Saint Leo bats. Frosch (1-3) picked up the win while closer Nic Kovacs earned the save.
The loss overshadowed an outstanding 4-for-4 night by Anthony Santa as he was one of five Lions to register multiple hits in the ballgame.
The Lions will look to draw even in the non-conference series when the two teams square off in doubleheader action on Saturday afternoon. The Lions and Sailfish will get game one underway at 1 p.m. at Southard Stadium. For the latest news, information, and updates on the baseball team, visit SaintLeoLions.com.