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Lions' Shafer 'went nuts' with 16 RBI in two games

By STEVE LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 17, 2001


SAINT LEO -- From Land O'Lakes Little League to Land O'Lakes High to Saint Leo, Erik Shafer never had a day like Saturday.

The Lions catcher slugged four home runs and had 16 RBI in a doubleheader split with Eckerd.

A senior switch-hitter, Shafer belted a pair of three-run homers -- one from each side of the plate -- in an 11-run third inning as Saint Leo beat Eckerd 21-4 in the nightcap. He added a grand slam from the left side in the sixth for 11 RBI in one game.

Two home runs in one inning from opposite sides of the plate and 11 RBI in one game are school records.

Shafer also homered and drove in five runs in the first game, a 12-6 loss to Eckerd.

"He went nuts," Saint Leo coach Ed Stabile said. "Every now and then you have big days.

"He's been consistent all year. He's learned not to pull everything."

"And that's the whole reason I'm hitting so much better this season," said Shafer, who after averaging .233 last season is batting .400 with 11 homers and a team-leading 68 RBI. "I took the time to learn to hit the other way."

Shafer, who also homered and had five RBI in Thursday's 14-3 win over Eckerd, was among five college players named Louisville Slugger's National Players of the Week. In four games last week, Shafer batted .688 with four doubles, five homers and 22 RBI.

Former Pasco infielder Tito Cruz, who leads the Lions with 13 homers, and Trevor Hall (12 homers) also homered in the second game against Eckerd.

Pitcher Josh Neitz (9-4) earned his team-leading ninth win in that game while Hall (5-1) lost his first game in the opener.

Saint Leo (30-18, 11-4 in the Sunshine State Conference) is ranked 18th nationally among Division II schools by Collegiate Baseball.

Two other conference rivals are ranked higher than the Lions: Tampa (36-5, 9-2) is the top-ranked team and Florida Southern (28-10, 9-3) is eighth.

"The key is consistency and the pitchers seem to be answering the call," Stabile said of his team's ranking.

Besides Neitz and Hall, pitcher Eric Paone has six wins and Pat Hudspeth has five.

SOFTBALL SPLIT: Saint Leo's softball team (27-15) split a doubleheader with Florida Southern on Wednesday.

Desi Croteau (Land O'Lakes) started both games and is 14-10 after the Lions' 2-1 win and 2-0 loss. She hit her sixth homer in the first game.

SLUGGING BOYD: University of South Florida outfielder Daniel Boyd, a former Pasco pitcher/infielder, was named Conference-USA Hitter of the Week.

Boyd, a senior who won the award for the second time in his career, hit .632 in five games last week, leading the Bulls to a 4-1 mark.

Boyd is second on the school's all-time home run list with 40, is the fifth Bull to hit 50 doubles and is third in career hits with 270.

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