LAKELAND, Fla.— The Fire utilized clutch hitting in key situations to defeat the University of St. Francis Fighting Saints by a score of 8-2. With the win over St. Francis, the Fire improved to 23-2 on the season.
Two-out hitting came up huge for Southeastern in the contest. SEU batters went 8-15 from the plate with a single out remaining in half innings.
With two gone in the first, Marvin Malone rocketed a towering ball over the right field wall to put Southeastern up 1-0. The longball marked the right fielder’s seventh home run of the year.
The Fire increased their lead with two outs in the fourth. After Dan Valerio doubled, scoring Nick Bottari, Vince Volpatti and Keiner Colmenarez both singled. The two then performed a well-executed double steal to cross Volpatti and give SEU a 3-0 advantage.
In the fifth, the Fire added three more runs, two of which came with two outs. Bottari hit a sacrifice fly, crossing Manuel Mesa, followed by RBI-hits by Ivan Nunez and Valerio. Valerio collected his NAIA-leading 33rd RBI of the season with his double, as he drove in Nunez.
The Fighting Saints inched closer with runs in the sixth and seventh innings, but were unable to put any real pressure on Southeastern.
SEU responded in the bottom of the seventh as Nunez singled in Dominic Anagnos for the Fire’s sixth unearned run of the contest.
Southeastern would add another on a Marcus Stump single up the middle in the eighth that plated Volpatti. With Stump’s base knock, every member of the Fire’s starting lineup notched a hit on the night.
Chase Dreger pitched a solid 5.2 innings in his first start of the year. The junior surrendered a mere four hits, allowing just one run, while striking out four and earning the win. Braeden Holub and Kasey Gast each pitched an inning in relief and struck out two batters without giving up a hit.
Baseball will continue its lengthy homestand Thursday night with a battle against St. Xavier. First pitch at Ted A. Broer Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m.