DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Saint Leo senior Alex Mata eclipsed the Lions' career doubles record to punctuate a doubleheader sweep over Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Saturday afternoon at Sliwa Stadium. The Lions captured the first game, 10-9, before completing the doubleheader and three-game sweep of the Eagles with a 5-3 win in game two.
The three-game sweep is Saint Leo's second of the season, after taking all three games off Albany State (Ga.) earlier in the season. The two wins on Saturday improve the Lions' record to 17-14 overall, with Saint Leo preparing to host No. 20 Lynn University in a Sunshine State Conference series next weekend at Thomas B. Southard Stadium.
Mata smashed career double number 62, his 14th double of the season, with one out in the top of the seventh inning. He broke the previous mark of 61 doubles, long held by Trevor Hall (1999-2002).
Saint Leo plated four runs in the top of the ninth to take a one run lead, then the Lions held on for the victory. Mata drew a leadoff walk, then was singled home by Shane Williams' base hit into center field. Chad Miller entered as a pinch runner for Williams, and moved around the bases on a Brett Coffel single, a sacrifice bunt by Mike Mann, and Chase Turner's hit by pitch.
Zach Scott plated all three runners – Miller, Coffel, and Turner – with a one-out triple into left center field, giving Saint Leo the lead.
Saint Leo's early 2-0 lead lasted until the bottom of the second inning when Embry-Riddle pushed across four runs. The Eagles held the upper-hand through the top of the seventh, when the Lions plated two runs to tie the game at 5-5.
The Lions took a 6-5 lead in the top of the eighth when Dylan Harris drove in Derek Gibree with a two-out single through the left side. However Embry-Riddle responded with four runs in the bottom of the eighth, including two off Christopher Medina's double to left field, to take a 9-6 lead.
Harris, Mata, Williams, and Turner each had three hits for the Lions, with Williams and Scott each charting three RBI. Pendleton picked up the win to improve to 3-2, while Whitaker earned the save.
Saint Leo overcame an early one-run deficit with a single run in the fourth, tying the game on Turner's sac fly to left that scored Williams. The Lions took the lead for good in the top of the fifth when Williams tripled home Harris with a shot into right center, with Coffel immediately following up with a double down the left field that allowed Williams to cross to make the score 3-1.
Embry-Riddle cut the margin to 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth on Cole Habig's solo home run to left field, but Saint Leo manufactured a run in the sixth to regain a two-run advantage, 4-2. Scott drew a one-out walk, was sacrificed to second by Gibree, and scored on a Lane Stancil base hit through the right side.
The pattern repeated itself in the eighth and ninth innings. The Eagles briefly cut the Saint Leo lead to one run, 4-3, on Zach Howard's RBI single, in the bottom of the eighth, with the Lions getting the run right back in the ninth when Williams doubled home Stancil with a hit into right center.
Williams finished game two with three hits and two runs batted in, and went 6-for-9 on the day with two runs and five RBI. Mata and Coffel each recorded two hits in game two.
Altogether, Harris, Mata, and Williams – the 2-3-4 spots in the Saint Leo order – combined to go 23-for-43 (.538) over the three-game series with Embry-Riddle. Harris also extended his consecutive games hitting streak to 26 games with his single to right center in the fifth inning.
Pendleton got the start in game two and went eight complete innings on his way to his second win of the day. He scattered nine hits and fanned four Eagle batters on 98 pitches in game two, improving his record to 4-2. Whitaker came in for Pendleton to pitch the ninth inning and picked up his second save of the day, and his fifth of the season.
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