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Lions' Shafer sparkles in Diamond Classic

By STEVE LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 13, 2001


SAINT LEO -- Eric Shafer went on a tear last week, leading Saint Leo to the Nijem Jewelries Diamond Classic championship and being named most valuable player.

The former Land O'Lakes catcher got hot at the plate at the beginning of the week by hitting a pair of doubles and a homer, driving in six runs and scoring three in Tuesday's 11-2 win against Shippensburg University.

Then Shafer led the Lions to a 2-1 record in the tourney at Valdosta State (Ga.) by batting .611 with two doubles, six RBI and three runs scored.

Saint Leo (14-11) has won four of its last five games, including a 3-1 mark in one-run battles. Saint Leo opened the tourney Friday with a 9-8 victory against Lynn. The Lions lost Saturday, 10-9 to North Alabama, before beating Valdosta State 14-7 on Sunday.

Saint Leo pitchers Josh Neitz (5-3) and Eric Paone (4-4) each won twice last week.

TOURNEY SPLIT: The Saint Leo softball team went 2-2 in the second annual Saint Leo Invitational.

The tournament was won for the second time by North Florida.

The Lions (12-6) won both of their games Friday -- 2-0 against Queens College (N.Y.) and 5-4 against Gardner-Webb (N.C.). Saint Leo lost twice Saturday -- 2-0 against North Florida and 5-0 against Ashland (Ohio).

"I told the kids we couldn't do that starting next weekend," Lions coach Christi Wade said.

The Lions play host to Rollins College on Saturday at 1 p.m. in their Sunshine State Conference opener.

Saint Leo pitcher Desi Croteau went 2-1 in the tournament. The former Land O'Lakes ace, who missed the first week of the season while battling the flu, is 6-4.

Croteau pitched 21 innings in the tourney, allowing 15 hits and four earned runs and striking out 30 and walking five.

Croteau hit a winning home run in the bottom of the seventh against Gardner-Webb.

PHCC: Pasco-Hernando Community College snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating Manatee twice, 6-5 in 11 innings on Friday and 14-6 Saturday.

"We were fortunate to get a break (in the extra-inning game)," PHCC coach Steve Winterling said. "Saturday, we just swung the bats really well. We played very relaxed and got some timely hits."

In their past three games, including Wednesday's 7-6 loss to Manatee, the Conquistadors have had 44 hits.

PHCC (11-11) had 18against Manatee on Friday, but it took an error to score the winning. Manatee took a 5-4 lead in the top of the 11th. In the bottom of that inning, Carl DiMartino (Ridgewood) hit a bases-loaded, two-out grounder to shortstop Justin Harris. Jeff Winterling scored the tying run, and Denis Hernandez crossed home with the game-winner on Harris' error.

PHCC also had 18 hits against Manatee.

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