SAINT LEO, Fla. – After falling to the visiting Barry Buccaneers by an 8-7 score on Monday afternoon, the Saint Leo baseball team rebounded in the second game of their final Sunshine State Conference doubleheader to force a two-game split. The last regular seasons contests finalized the Lions' overall regular season record at 33-16, earning them a tie with Florida Southern for third place in the Sunshine State Conference.
Much like Saturday evening, the Barry Buccaneers took to the scoreboard first, scoring two runs in the top of the second inning when senior first baseman Tyler Kellman blasted a two-run homerun over the right-centerfield fence.
Junior DH Jordan Taylor took control of the Lions' offense and evened the score in the bottom of the third, ripping an RBI single down the right-field line that scored both Nick Perez and Dylan Harris.
In the Lions' next at-bat, junior catcher Dale Irving rocketed a double off the left-centerfield wall that scored junior Bobby Twitty and put the Lions ahead, 3-2.
A solo shot from the Bucs' Khalil Denson tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the eighth, but senior Fran Whitten blasted a three-run homerun in the bottom of the eighth that propelled the Lions to a quick 6-3 lead.
With a 6-3 score in favor of Saint Leo heading into the ninth inning, the Buccaneers launched an offensive attack that would ultimately decide the contest. Scoring five runs on three singles, three walks, and a sacrifice flyout, the Bucs forced an 8-6 lead heading into the Lions' half of the ninth.
Trailing by two, junior Dale Irving jumpstarted the Lions' final effort with a one-out double down the left-field line to put a runner in scoring position. Taylor Perez and Nick Perez followed his lead with back-to-back singles to the right side, scoring Irving and putting the Lions within one. After a walk to freshman Troy Sieber loaded the bases, Saint Leo was unable to score any more, recording an 8-7 loss.
Three members of the Lions' pitching staff appeared in the first game of the day, with junior righty Liam O'Sullivan receiving the start. He tossed 7.1 innings, allowing just 6 hits and striking out eight before senior Brandon Terry and junior Tyrone Miller both appeared in relief. The three combined for ten strikeouts on the afternoon, and Terry was credited with the loss.
Senior Brent Krauss took the mound for the Lions in game two of the doubleheader, tossing a scoreless top of the first that allowed the green and gold the first opportunity to score.
It was sophomore Taylor Perez who sparked the inning with a one-out double down the left-field line. After being moved over to third base on a groundout, freshman Dylan Harris came up with the two-out RBI single that plated Perez and gave Saint Leo a 1-0 lead.
Gathering momentum in the top of the second inning, the Bucs responded with three runs on a two-run homerun by Luis Rios-Reyes and an RBI single off the bat of Carlos Matamoros. The offensive surge put Barry ahead, 3-1.
Refusing defeat, Saint Leo answered back in the bottom of the inning, tying the game at 3-3 when sophomore Cole Stancil and junior Nick Perez each registered RBI doubles to right-field.
After holding the Bucs scoreless in the third, the Lions again took to the scoreboard, tacking on two more runs for a 5-3 lead. Jordan Taylor and Chris Newcomb both collected an RBI in the effort.
The bottom of the sixth inning allowed for four more Saint Leo runs, pushing the score to 10-3. It was senior Michael Callahan who led off the inning with a one-out single up the middle, stealing second and third base to garner some momentum for the green and gold. A single from Dylan Harris then scored Callahan, and Harris soon advanced to third after a wild pitch and a stolen base. After Harris took home on a passed ball opportunity, Jordan Taylor roped a triple to right-centerfield, giving the Lions yet another runner in scoring position. Senior Chris Newcomb made the effort worthwhile, blasting a two-run monster homerun over the left-field fence to put the Lions up by seven.
Three senior Saint Leo pitchers recorded an out in the top of the seventh inning, propelling the Lions to a 10-3 triumph in their final regular season game of 2014. As a whole, four pitchers appeared in the final game of the series; all seniors. Brent Krauss, Ryan Sadler, Shaun Adams, and Brandon Terry combined for six strikeouts in the contest, scattering just five Barry hits. The effort came less than 24 hours after their senior recognition on Sunday evening.
The Lions' end their season with a 33-16 overall record; good enough for a tie for third place in the widely recognized and highly competitive Sunshine State Conference. Saint Leo will await their postseason fate until Sunday, May 11th, when the NCAA hosts the Division II selection show. To watch live, click here: http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2014/05/11.
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