SAINT LEO, Fla. - Saint Leo raced out to an early lead as it defeated No. 8 Valdosta State 10-4 in non-conference baseball action at Southard Stadium Tuesday.
Valdosta State (14-5) struck first as, with one out in the top of the first inning, Mike Reed doubled and scored when Bryant Hayman followed with a single. However, the Lions (12-6) quickly took the lead as they scored two runs in the bottom of the inning when Taylor Perez homered with Chris Newcomb on base to put SLU in front 2-1.
Saint Leo upped its advantage to 5-1 in the second inning as the first four batters of the inning reached base, including three via hits. Fran Whitten drove in two of the runs with a single while Alex Matta hit a sacrifice fly for the inning's final run.
The Blazers got two runs back in the top of the third inning. Jimmy Dowdell singled to open the frame before Kevin Cruz also reached on a base hit. Michael Gouge followed with a double down the left field line that scored Dowdell while Cruz scored when Hunter Thompson grounded out to cut the VSU deficit to 5-3.
Saint Leo responded with four runs in the bottom of the fifth and, after Thompson scored for Valdosta State in the seventh, closed out the scoring with a run on a Blazer error in the eighth.
Valdosta State starter Zakk White took the loss as he allowed six hits and five earned runs in 1.2 innings as he fell to 0-1. Hayman, Dowdell, Gouge, Thompson and Matthew Fears all had two hits to lead the Blazers offensively.
Michael Dunnigan gave up just four hits and one unearned run in 3.0 innings of relief work for Saint Leo to improve to 3-1 on the year. Whitten had four hits on the evening to lead the Lions at the plate.
Valdosta State returns to action Saturday when it travels to Livingston, Ala. to take on West Alabama in a Gulf South Conference series. First pitch for Saturday's doubleheader is slated for 3:00 p.m. while Sunday's series finale will start at 2:00 p.m.