MELBOURNE, Fla. – After earning their first Sunshine State Conference victory Friday night over the Florida Tech Panthers, the Saint Leo baseball team did not finish play on Saturday due to inclement weather, forcing the Lions and Panthers to return Sunday afternoon to wrap up their doubleheader as well as the SSC series. Saturday featured a come-from-behind 11-9 win for the Lions in game one, followed by a 3-0 victory for the series sweep in game two.
Junior righty Liam O'Sullivan took the mound for the Lions in game one, tossing 4.2 innings before Ethan Lichtenberg and Brandon Terry made relief appearances. The trio allowed 15 hits and just four walks in the win, combining for six strikeouts. O'Sullivan took home the win in the effort, while Terry earned the save.
Unlike Friday night's contest, it was Florida Tech who scored first in their second at-bat of the day, earning one run on two hits to take a 1-0 lead.
After holding Saint Leo scoreless through four innings, the Panthers capitalized on two big hits in the bottom of the fourth to score another run and take a two-run lead over the Lions.
The Lions were unable to get their bats going until the top of the fifth, when freshman Dylan Harris led off the inning with a single through the left side. After a groundout moved Harris over to second base, sophomore Cole Stancil sent a hard double down the left field line to pick up the RBI and give Saint Leo their first run of the day. One out later, a single down the right field line from junior catcher Dale Irving scored Stancil and tied the game at 2-all.
Florida Tech responded in the bottom of the fifth, picking up four runs on four hits and two walks to take a 6-2 lead. Despite the surge, the Lions offense was not finished.
It was sophomore Taylor Perez who led off the top of the sixth for the Lions, picking up a single to right-center to give Saint Leo an early base runner. Senior Fran Whitten then blasted an 0-2 triple down the right field line to score Perez and bring the score to 6-3. An RBI single from Harris later scored Whitten to bring the Lions within two.
A three-run blast in the bottom of the inning extended the Florida Tech lead to 9-4, yet Saint Leo rebounded with a run in the top of the seventh off a sacrifice flyout from Stancil.
After holding the Panthers scoreless in the bottom of the seventh, the Lions found their stride in the eighth. Again, Taylor Perez led off the inning with a single down the left field line, which Whitten followed up with a monster homerun over the right-centerfield fence to bring the score to 9-7. Two outs later, Chris Newcomb brought the Lions within one run with a homerun off the scoreboard in left-centerfield.
Moments later, the contest was suspended for inclement weather, and the Lions were forced to return Sunday to wrap up the first game of the doubleheader as well as the series.
Upon returning to play on Sunday, the Lions capitalized in the top of the 9th inning to pick up two runs and take their first lead of the day. It was sophomore Cole Stancil and freshman Zachary Gary who rallied for RBI basehits to give the Lions' the momentum that they needed. Senior Brandon Terry held off the Panthers in the bottom of the inning, earning the win and bringing home an 11-9 victory for Saint Leo.
Game two of the afternoon featured a true pitcher's duel for both teams, as the Lions and Panthers went scoreless for the first three innings, allowing just one hit on both sides.
The Lions gained momentum in the top of the fourth, picking up two runs and taking a comfortable lead. It was Harris who led off the inning with a bunt single to first base and stole second, scoring when Alex Mata connected on a soft line shot to centerfield that put Saint Leo up by one. After Jordan Taylor reached on a walk, Stancil again came up clutch, sending an RBI single up the middle to score Mata and give the Lions a 2-0 lead.
Holding Florida Tech scoreless in their at-bat, the Lions got some offense going again in the top of the sixth when Alex Mata picked up another RBI single to give Saint Leo a 3-0 lead.
After a scoreless sixth and seventh, the Lions walked home with a win and the series sweep.
Senior Brandon Terry was awarded the start in game two of the doubleheader, and his performance earned him yet another victory on the weekend. Striking out eight and throwing to just one batter over the minimum, the senior lefty allowed just two hits in the start and earned a complete game shutout.
As a team, the Lions earned a total of 20 hits between the two games, walking five times and picking up seven extra-base hits.
The Lions will return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Rollins for a midweek regional contest. First pitch of the single game is set for 6:00 p.m.
For more on the Saint Leo baseball team, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Also, be sure to 'Like' the Lions on Facebook and 'Follow' Saint Leo Athletics on Twitter and Instagram.