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Home run saves series for Lions

By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 7, 2002


SAINT LEO -- In coach Ed Stabile's five seasons at Saint Leo, the Lions have annually won two of three games against Sunshine State Conference rival Eckerd.

SAINT LEO -- In coach Ed Stabile's five seasons at Saint Leo, the Lions have annually won two of three games against Sunshine State Conference rival Eckerd.

This season's series adhered to that pattern with Saturday's doubleheader split, which followed Friday's 11-3 Saint Leo win.

"They find a way to get one out of three against us every year," Stabile said. "They battle. They find a way to win."

In the nightcap Saturday, Josh Prillhart found a way to help the Lions win by hitting a two-out home run, his first of the season, in the eighth inning. That gave Saint Leo a 3-2 win and avenged a 10-6 loss to the Tritons in the first game. "After losing, you're doubting," Stabile said between games. "You're wondering what you have to do to win this one."

The Lions, who had lost four of five coming into the three-game series, improved 26-16 overall and 7-5 in the SSC.

Eckerd is 24-19 and dropped to 4-5 in the conference race.

"Our conference is so good that every game is a do-or-die situation," Eckerd coach Bill Mathews said.

The Lions' Trevor Hall smacked his team-leading eighth home run and Josh Neitz improved to 7-1 in Saturday's second game.

Neitz, a right-hander, scattered six hits in eight innings, struck out seven and walked three to tie Eric Paone (7-5) for the team lead in victories. In the first game, Eckerd rallied from four-run and three-run deficits for a 10-6 win.

The Tritons' Chris Rosende hit a two-run double that cut Saint Leo's lead to 4-3 in the top of the third.

The Lions increased their lead to 6-3 on Rocky Barror's seventh home run in the bottom of the third, and on Jared Crandon's dash to home while Neitz was caught in a rundown between first and second bases in the fourth.

But Eckerd took an 8-6 lead in the fifth on three hits, two errors and a wild pitch by losing pitcher Steve Boychuk (1-2).

Boychuk, a freshman left-hander, picked off two baserunners to take the team lead with three.

Saint Leo took a 4-0 lead in the second on Ryan Swan's two-run double and Sam O'Leary's two-run home run, his third.

But Eckerd starter Chris Brooks (2-0) settled down and would not allow another big inning.

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