SAINT LEO, Fla. – A late-inning rally by Saint Leo that was aided by Lane Stancil's two-run home run came up shy of the mark, and the Lions dropped an 8-6 decision to visiting West Alabama, Saturday evening at Thomas B. Southard Stadium.
Trailing 7-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth, Michael Mann got aboard with a single down the right field line, and scored on Stancil's shot to right field to cut the margin to 7-6. However the Lions where held hitless over the remainder of the frame, and were unable to add any runs in the ninth to respond to a West Alabama insurance run in the top of the inning.
Saint Leo (1-1) opened the game showing the same hitting prowess as it did in Friday night's 11-5 triumph over West Alabama (1-1).
Saint Leo grabbed a 4-0 lead in the second inning on a two-run shot to right field by Zach Scott – his third home run of the young 2017 season. Derek Gibree followed up with a single through the left side and a Chase Turner double down the left field line. Turner crossed later in the frame on Alex Mata's sacrifice fly to center field.
The Lions had a chance to put more runs on the board in the third after loading up the bases with one out, but a grounder to third was converted for a 5-4-3 double play to get West Alabama starter Braxton Wallace out of the jam.
West Alabama put its first run on the board in the fourth when Luke Phillips reached on a hit-by-pitch, and crossed on Josh Winningham's line drive into right field.
The Tigers took the lead in the seventh with five runs, including a three-run home run by Taylor Stafford and a solo shot off the bat of Dylan Little. West Alabama went on to add single runs in the eighth, on a bases loaded wild pitch, and in the ninth on a bases loaded walk.
"West Alabama's good, and we knew that coming into the weekend," said Saint Leo Head Coach Sean O'Connor. "Just because we beat them last night they're not going to roll over for us. We're up 4-1 and had a chance to put the pedal down and go up 6-1 or 7-1, but we didn't get it done and capitalize on bases loaded."
"You let a team like that hang around and eventually they're going to hit," said O'Connor.
After the third inning, Saint Leo was retired in order hitless over the next four innings. Wallace lasted into the sixth and recorded four strikeouts, with Brady Badon finishing out the final three-and-two-third innings and getting credit for the win. He also recorded four strikeouts.
"Their guy (Wallace) started to figure out his slider a little bit. He got a little sharper on the mound, and found that slider that's pretty good, with a pretty good breaking ball. And Badon, who came on in relief for them, was very good – really good breaking ball, and good fastball."
Stancil, Scott, and Gibree each finished the night with two hits for the Lions, with Stancil and Scott also recording two runs batted in.
Stafford paced West Alabama at the plate with two hits and three RBI, with Dylan Little also recording a pair of hits.
Junior lefthander Tyler Bauman turned in a great performance in his first start for the Lions, retiring four Tiger batters on strikeouts and scattering four hits. He allowed just one run and held West Alabama to 4-of-21 (.190) at the plate over his six innings of work.
Alec Lamrouex took the loss for his one-third inning of work in the seventh inning, after allowing four West Alabama runs to score including the three-run homer by Stafford. Zach Whitaker, Marcelo Parker-Hernandez, Ethan Lichtenberg, and Dan Twitty combined to finish out the game, allowing just two hits with three strikeouts over 2.2 innings.
Saint Leo pitchers held West Alabama to just 4-of-20 (.200) with runners on base, and 2-of-14 (.143) with runners in scoring position. However they also allowed five HBP and five walks.
"Tyler Bauman did a great job, and he gave us a chance to win the ball game," said O'Connor. "Overall, we had one spot where we didn't pitch well – it's no big deal. I think in 17 out of the 18 innings we've played so far we've pitched much better than we did last year. We had one bad inning, and it cost us a ball game. And when you play really good teams, if you have one bad inning then you're going to get beat."
The Lions will look to get back in the win column in the rubber game of the three-game series between Saint Leo and West Alabama on Sunday at 12:00 p.m.
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