SAINT LEO, Fla. – After trailing 5-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Saint Leo baseball team fought for a 6-5 comeback victory, Sunday night against the Barry University Buccaneers in the last regular season series opener of 2014. The RBI single came off the bat of senior Fran Whitten, coincidentally on the same night that the Lions celebrated senior day.
The offense started slow for the Lions, as Barry took a 2-0 lead in the third inning off almost back to back homeruns from the Bucs' Branden Shaw and Khalil Densen.
With Saint Leo unable to get any offense going, the Bucs extended their lead to 4-0 in the top of the seventh when a Saint Leo error allowed two Barry runners to cross the plate.
An RBI single from the Lions' Chris Newcomb scored one for Saint Leo in the bottom of the seventh, but Barry responded with a run of their own in the top of the eighth to force back a four-run lead.
Trailing 5-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the Lions quickly recorded two outs, but a pinch hit walk by junior Jordan Taylor sparked a two-out rally that would end in a walk off win for the Lions. After Taylor took first on a walk, senior Chris Newcomb gave the Lions two base runners on a hit-by-pitch. A walk to Bobby Twitty loaded the bases, and the following HBP to Dale Irving put the Lions within three. With bases loaded yet again, a single from Nick Perez drove in Newcomb, pushing the score to 5-3, and after Twitty scored on a passed ball, pinch runner Zach Daley crossed the plate on a wild pitch to tie the game at five-all. A walk to Taylor Perez put two Lions runners on base, and it was senior Fran Whitten who came up big, stroking a single to left field that scored Nick Perez and gave the Lions a 6-5 walk off victory.
Sophomore RHP Michael Dunnigan got the start for the Lions, tossing seven innings before senior Ryan Sadler appeared in relief. Despite combining for seven strikeouts on the evening, it was junior Tyrone Miller who took home the win, improving to 5-0 on the year as he allowed no hits and no runs in 1.1 innings of work.
As a team, Saint Leo out-hit Barry nine hits to five on the evening, taking base on three walks and stealing one base. Nick Perez, Fran Whitten, and Dylan Harris all recorded multi-hit efforts.
Saint Leo and Barry will wrap up the final regular season series on Monday when the teams do battle in an afternoon Sunshine State Conference doubleheader. First pitch of the day is set for 1:00 p.m. at Thomas B. Southard Stadium.
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