The long ball and extra innings lift baseball past Albany State, 9-6

Zack Sabo was one of three Lions to hit home runs in Saint Leo's 9-6 12-inning win over Albany State on Sunday in Georgia.
Zack Sabo was one of three Lions to hit home runs in Saint Leo's 9-6 12-inning win over Albany State on Sunday in Georgia.

ALBANY, Ga. – Lane Stancil's sacrifice fly to right field with one out in the top of the 12th inning provided the game-winning run, and lifted Saint Leo baseball to a 9-6 win over Albany State on Sunday at Golden Rams Field.

The victory allowed Saint Leo to complete a three-game sweep of Albany State, and improve its record to 5-4.

Tied 6-6 heading into the top of the 12th, Coffel got aboard with a leadoff single to left. He advanced to third on Mike Mann's base hit into center field, and crossed to give the Lions a 7-6 lead on Stancil's sac fly to right.

After a Zack Sabo walk to put runners on first and second, Chase Turner sliced a double into center field to score both Sabo and Mann and extend Saint Leo's lead to 9-6. Derek Gibree drew a two-out walk to again put runners at first and second, but Albany State pitcher Tyler Wilche induced a pop-up to third by Chad Miller to get the Golden Rams out of the frame.

Albany State (0-8) got two runners aboard in the bottom of the 12th, but reliever Zach Whitaker fanned the next two batters to clinch the win.

Saint Leo jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the mid-point of the second inning, after a three-run blast by Alex Mata in the first and a solo shot by Sabo to lead off the second.

A pair of Albany State runs in the bottom of the second and a three-run third inning keyed by Jonatan Galan's two-run home run, gave the Golden Rams a 5-4 lead after three complete.

A Chad Miller round-tripper to open the fifth and an RBI double to left field by Mata later in the inning vaulted the Lions into a 6-5 lead, but the advantage proved to be short-lived. ASU's Lawrence Hyde singled home Terrence Worthy with two outs, knotting the game at 6-6.

Saint Leo's best chance to avoid extra-innings came in the eighth, when the Lions opened the frame with back-to-back singles by Mann and Shane Williams. The runners moved up to second and third on Turner's sacrifice bunt to third, but a grounder to second on the next at bat left Mann and Williams stranded.

Coffel finished the game with four hits including a pair of doubles and three runs scored, while Mata, Mann, Turner, and Dylan Harris each had a pair of hits. Mata finished the game with four RBI.  

Whitaker fanned five of the 10 batters he faced over three innings of relief work, and got credit for the win. Whitaker, starter Eoin McAvinchey, and relievers Blake Bodin and Dan Twitty held Albany State to just eight hits over 12 innings.

Saint Leo returns home next weekend as its hosts Palm Beach Atlantic in a non-conference series starting Friday, Feb. 24, at 6:00 p.m. The series concludes with a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 25, starting at 1:00 p.m.

For more information on the Saint Leo baseball program, visit SaintLeoLions.com.  Fans