The Monarchs manage just five hits in a 4-2 loss to Carson-Newman in the first round of the Div. II South Region tournament.
The Saint Leo baseball team figured it needed to concentrate on its fielding and pitching to get past Carson-Newman (Tenn.) in the opening game of the Division II South Region Tournament. The offense, averaging more than seven runs a game, would take care of itself ... right?
Not quite. Carson-Newman's Jeremy Robinson limited the Monarchs to five hits as the Eagles beat Saint Leo 4-2 at Florida Power Park on Thursday.
In the second game, top-seeded Florida Southern defeated No. 4 Savannah (Ga.) State 6-5. No. 3 Saint Leo will play Savannah State today at 1 p.m. in the double-elimination tournament, and Florida Southern meets No. 2 Carson-Newman (40-11-2) at 4:30.
Saint Leo (31-22) had been held to two runs or fewer just seven times this season, and only twice in its past 27 games (and it won both).
But Robinson (12-2), a senior right-hander, kept the Monarchs off-balance with first-pitch breaking balls. And still he had enough gas in the ninth to strike out the final two batters on high heat.
"It was just pure adrenaline," Robinson said.
The Monarchs' Pat Bowen (5-4) kept Carson-Newman hitless through the first 4 innings but was done in by one frustrating inning.
Carson-Newman scored three times in the sixth on a hit batsman; a sacrifice bunt attempt that turned into a single; a chopper that bounded over the shortstop's head; an overthrow of third base into the Carson-Newman dugout by centerfielder Jason Barker; and an run-scoring single.
"Pat pitched a great ball game," Saint Leo coach Ed Stabile said. "They just got a couple breaks."
In the nightcap, Florida Southern (46-9) won in scintillating fashion, getting a two-run double from freshman Lance Niekro (3-for-5, two doubles) with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to edge Savannah State (38-11).
The Tigers had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth, drawing three straight walks to score the tying run and getting the go-ahead run on a groundout.
Niekro doubled to lead off the bottom of the eighth, but he failed to score on Ralph Albanese's double when he held on the bag to see if the ball would be caught.
Florida Southern, chasing its ninth national title, committed four errors, and just one of Savannah State's runs was earned.