The North Greenville Crusaders opened up their 2019 season with a tough loss to the 23rd ranked Saint Leo Lions with a final score of 7-4 in Tampa, Florida. Extra innings were required, but the Lions broke through for good in the 11th with a 3-run inning. Adam Sasser made an impactful Crusader debut, going 2 for 5 with a home run. Kaleb Gibson was charged with the loss.
Innings 1-3 (2-1 SLU)
With Michael Giacone making his Crusader debut as the starting pitcher, Saint Leo struck first in the 1st inning with an RBI single through the right side. The Crusaders made some noise in the bottom of the first, but left two runners on base. SLU scored another run in the 2nd with an RBI double down the third base line. Sean Parsons would score the first run of the season for the Crusaders in the bottom of the 2nd with a solo home run to right field. The Lions would leave three runs on base in the top of the 3rd inning. North Greenville had two on base with one out in the bottom of the 3rd, but an inning-ending double play ended the threat.
Innings 4-6 (3-2 NGU)
Matthew Dailey relieved Giacone to begin the 4th inning. Both teams would score no runs while leaving two on base in the inning. After Brent Herlong entered the game and pitched a three up three down inning, NGU took the lead in the bottom of the 5th inning. Adam Sasser homered to right field to tie the game at 2-2. With Jeffrey Chandler Jr. doubling and later advancing to third on a wild pitch, John Michael Faile scored Chandler with an RBI single to left center. With Kipp Rollings entering the game to pitch, Saint Leo went on to leave two runners on base in the top of the 6th while the Crusaders went three up three down in the bottom of the inning.
Innings 7-9 (4-4 Tied)
A short 7th inning saw both teams go three up three down. The Lions did get a runner on base due to an error in the top of the 8th, but was later caught stealing to retire the side. NGU added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning. With two runners on, Palmer Sapp hit a pinch hit sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Chandler to make the score 4-2 in favor of the Crusaders. Heading to the 9th with an out and a runner on base, a home run down the right field line by SLU would tie the game at 4-4. Brock Robinson would relieve Rollings, and was able to retire the side without allowing a run to score. A three up three down bottom of the 9th forced extra innings.
Innings 10-11 (7-4 SLU)
Not much went on in the 10th inning as the Lions would get just runner on base while NGU went three up three down for the second straight inning. Kaleb Gibson began the inning as the pitcher, but was immediately relieved by Jared Lembcke after giving up a walk. With the bases loaded, an RBI single as well as two sacrifice fly balls scored three runs in the inning for Saint Leo. Once again, North Greenville went three up three down in the bottom of the inning to end the game.
Adam Sasser had a solid Crusader debut with a 2 for 5 performance including a home run.
Jeffrey Chandler Jr. also went 2 for 5 and came around to score 2 runs.
Sean Parsons recorded 2 hits in 3 at bats with an RBI and a run scored.
The Crusaders will try to even up their record tomorrow when they take on the Lander Bearcats in Tampa, Florida.