LAKELAND - Florida Southern opened the home portion of its 2015 schedule here Tuesday evening by falling 10-9 in 10 innings to Saint Leo at historic Henley Field.
On the night, the 16th-ranked Moccasin offense struggled with runners on base as they left 20 runners on base for the game, including leaving the bases loaded the first and fourth innings and stranding two runners in the second, fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth and 10th innings.
FSC, who fell to 3-3 with the loss, has now left 62 runners on base through the first six games this season and is averaging 10.3 runners stranded per game.
The Mocs, who trailed 9-6 after five innings, scored four runs over the final four innings to force extra innings after tying the game in the eighth on an RBI double to right center by junior shortstop Shawn Sanders (Citra, Fla.). Sanders' double allowed senior leftfielder Kyle Richards (Groton, Conn.) to score from second after he reached on a one-out single and stole second in front of Sanders' doubles. Richards finished the game by recording four hits in five at-bats and was on base all six times in the game as he drew a walk in the second and reached on an error in the sixth.
FSC had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning as junior rightfielder Jhalan Jackson (Winter Haven, Fla.) walked with one out and moved to second when senior catcher Joey Miller (Sarasota, Fla.) drew a walk from SLU releiver Michael Dunnigan. Dunnigan, though, would get out the jam as Jackson was thrown out trying to score from second on Richards' single through the right side.
In the top of the 10th inning, the Lions would retake the lead as Dale Irving hit a lead-off solo home run off of senior reliever Austin Barnett (Lakeland, Fla.) to give SLU a 10-9 lead. The homer by Irving was the fourth of the game for the Lions, who entered the game having hit 12 home runs in its first six games this season.
Barnett (0-1), who was the third pitcher of the game for the Mocs, threw the final four innings and allowed four hits and one run, while striking out a career-high four and walking none.
Irving's home run held up as Dunningan (3-0) pitched out of a jam in the 10th to seal the Lions non-conference victory. In the 10th, the Mocs put its first two hitters on base thanks to a double by junior centerfielder Sam Machonis (Tampa, Fla.) and Sanders reaching on a throwing error by Lions shortstop Taylor Perez. Dunnigan, though, would retire next three Moc hitters in order, including ending the game on a ground out by junior third baseman Dominic Brugnoni (St. Clair Shores, Mich.).
Dunnigan earned the win in relief for SLU as he pitched 2.1 innings and allowed two hits, both which came off the bat of Richards, while walking three and striking out three.
On the night, the Mocs collected 17 hits as aong with Richards' career-high tying four hits, Machonis, Sanders, Brugnoni, Jackson, senior second baseman Chris Dennis (Rockledge, Fla.) and junior first baseman Blake Swann (Live Oak, Fla.) each had two hits in the loss.
SLU (7-0) jumped in front 1-0 in the top of the second inning on a one-out solo home run by Bobby Twitty off of Moccasin junior hurler Ben Richardson (Orlando, Fla.), who was making his second start of the season.
The Lions lead grew to 5-0 in the third inning on a grand slam by Troy Siebler over the wall in right field. The homer by Siebler was his fourth of the season.
FSC, though, would answer back in the bottom of the third inning as they sent nine guys to the plate and recorded five hits and scored five runs to tie the game. The Mocs began the scoring with a 2-run homer by Swann (Live Oak, Fla.) and added two more runs on a two-run double off the bat of Miller. Miller's double came two batters after Jackson reached on a triple and sophomore designated hitter Jason Sierra (Sarasota, Fla.) drew a walk from SLU starter Jordan Taylor.
SLU would come back in the top of the fourth inning as they used three hits to plate three runs and take an 8-5 lead. The big hit in the inning was a 2-run homer by Nick Boland off of Richardson, who pitched three-plus innings on the night and allowed nine hits and eight runs, while walking one and striking out one.
The Lions lead grew to 9-5 in the fifth inning on an RBI double by Boland off of sophomore reliever Craig Savage (Apopka, Fla.).
SLU, who also finished with 17 hits for the game, was paced offensively by a 5-for-6 night at the plate from Cole Stancil, while Irving added three hits and Boland, Twitty and Alex Mata each had two hits in the win.
The Mocs will continue its homestand this coming weekend as they host Mount Olive for a three-game series. The teams will open the series with a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. and will conclude the series with a single game on Sunday, Feb. 15 at 1 p.m.