TAMPA, Fla. – Saint Leo batters finished the day with 21 hits off University of Tampa pitchers, but dropped both ends of the teams' Sunshine State Conference baseball doubleheader on Saturday at the UT Baseball Field. The Lions dropped a 12-1 decision to the third-ranked Spartans in game one of the doubleheader, and fell to UT, 12-6, in game two.
Tampa scored took a 3-0 lead after a pair of run in the first inning and a single run in the second. The Lions got one of those runs back in the third when Lane Stancil's leadoff single was accompanied by a Tampa throwing error by the third baseman, allowing Stancil to reach second. He was sacrificed over to third by Dylan Harris, and crossed on Brett Coffel's grounder to short.
The Spartans extended their lead to 5-1 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Saint Leo quickly answered with two runs of their own in the top of the fourth on three hits, taking advantage of back-to-back singles by Zack Sabo and Chase Turner to open the inning. Sabo crossed on Mike Mann grounder to short while Turner came home on Derek Gibree's base hit to third, cutting the Tampa lead to 5-3.
The Spartans' Kevin Santa hit a three-run home run in the fourth to extend the UT lead to 8-3. Saint Leo again put up two runs in the fifth on an Alex Mata RBI double, followed by Turner's base hit to center field two batters later than scored another run and cut the deficit to 8-5. Two Tampa runs on two hits in the fifth again put the Spartans in front by five runs, 10-5.
Gibree's leadoff double in the sixth eventually produced another Saint Leo run, when he scored on a Harris infield single, but that would cap the Lions' scoring for the night. Tampa tacked on two more insurance runs in the eight for the 12-6 final.
Harris and Turner each went 3-for-4 in game one of the twinbill, while Stancil and Gibree each had a pair of hits.
In the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, Saint Leo posted a single run in the second inning. Nick Boland reached on a fielder error by the Tampa pitcher, and later scored on Derek Gibree's base hit up the middle.
The Lions were unable to push any more runs across despite getting the leadoff batter aboard in the third and fifth innings, but they also kept the Spartans in check by allowing just two base runners over the first four innings.
Tampa broke the game wide open in the fifth with eight runs on seven hits, including Drew Burkhart's three-run home run off reliever Oscar Gordillo with two outs. That was followed by a solo home run off the bat of Darren Miller, before Blake Bodin got the Lions out of the frame by striking out Tampa's Chris Gaffney.
The Spartans added three more runs in the seventh to extend their lead to 11-1, and added another run in the eighth for the 12-1 final score.
Chase Turner led the Lions at the plate with a pair of singles and a double, while Dylan Harris had a single and a double. Starter Eoin McAvinchey took the loss; he scattered five hits over 4 1/3 innings of work with two strikeouts, but he was charged with the first five Tampa runs in the fifth inning.
Tampa starting pitcher David LeBron yielded seven hits to Saint Leo over his seven complete innings of work, but fanned 13 of the 32 Lion batters he faced. At the plate, Tampa collected 13 hits led by Richie Rivera with three.
Saint Leo returns home for three games next week, starting with a game against the University of Bridgeport on Monday, March 13. First pitch at Thomas B. Southard Stadium is slated for 6:00 p.m.
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