FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Tyler Epstein set the tone with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning, paving the way for an eventual offensive explosion, as Nova Southeastern cruised to a 13-4 win over Saint Leo in game one of the Sunshine State Conference series Wednesday evening. One of five Sharks to tally multiple hits, Epstein finished the ball game with three runs batted in and four runs scored in the effort, while Cooper Omans tossed five solid innings to improve to 2-1 on the mound this season.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Final Score: Nova Southeastern – 13, Saint Leo – 4
Records: Nova Southeastern (11-9, 9-9 SSC). Saint Leo (7-15, 6-14 SSC)
Location: NSU Baseball Complex | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_Baseball | Instagram – @NSU_Baseball | Facebook – /NSUBaseball
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Epstein greeted Saint Leo starter Jestin Jones by launching his third home run of the season over the wall in left center just two pitches into the bottom of the first, setting the tone for a huge offensive day, not just for himself, but the Sharks as a unit.
That early score was most definitely foreshadowing of things to come for the Sharks. After Omans escaped a couple jams in the opening innings, NSU tacked on two more runs in the home half of the third thanks to an Epstein RBI-single up the middle and an Andrew Labosky sacrifice fly to deep center.
The Lions erased the shutout in the top of the fourth, yet NSU quickly responded in the bottom of the inning by sending all nine batters to the plate. With two runners aboard, Alejandro Macario chipped an RBI up the middle to score Alex Steinbach and open up a huge inning for NSU. Stephen Schissler smacked an RBI double deep down the right field line to plate Daniel Irisarri, coming home to score himself on another Epstein strike, an RBI single into shallow left field. After a pitching change allowed Epstein an opportunity to steal home, Adan Fernandez sealed off the five-run inning with an RBI single to right field that scored Labosky for the 8-1 NSU advantage.
The Sharks were hardly content up by seven runs, tacking up another pair in the fifth, beginning with Alex Hernandez’ leadoff dinger beyond left center and closing with Macario’s RBI double just three batters later.
As the Sharks began to work into their bullpen after five solid innings from Omans, the Lions began to apply a little pressure. Jake Vander Wal and PJ Barry knocked down a couple of RBI in the sixth and Vander Wal added a homer in the seventh, but that was it for the SLU comeback.
After briefly being silenced in the sixth, the Sharks offense reclaimed one run in the seventh with Irisarri scoring on an error. NSU fully reloaded their advantage in the eighth with Epstein scoring on a wild pitch and Jarrett Hall plating Labosky on an RBI single to reach the highest runs for NSU this season at 13.
Joe Smeton took the mound in the ninth and worked around a walk to put the Lions away with no damage and finalize the Sharks’ 11th win and a winning opener to this week’s conference series.
STATS OF THE DAY
- The Sharks scored in 6-of-8 innings, en route to season highs of 13 runs on 15 hits
- Dating back to 2014, NSU has now beaten SLU in 18 of the past 19 meetings in the series.
- Five NSU players recorded multi-hit performances in the victory – Epstein, Hernandez, Labosky, Macario and Schissler.
- Following Wednesday’s five-inning outing, Omans’ earned run average has dipped to 2.67 over the course of 27 combined innings.
- Omans earned the win to move his record to 2-1, allowing one run on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
- With long balls from both Epstein and Hernandez, the Sharks have now registered six multi-homer games this season.
- A monster game for Epstein after collecting only two hits in the previous four games, today he matched his career high with 4-for-5 batting and four runs scored, setting a new career standard with three RBI.
- NSU swiped four bases on Wednesday, including three in the five-run fourth inning.
- Saint Leo committed five errors in the contest.
The Sharks and Lions will close out their three-game set with a doubleheader at Saint Leo, scheduled to begin Friday at 3:00 p.m.
For complete coverage of the action, visit the schedule page on NSUSharks.com or follow the Sharks on Instagram or Twitter @NSU_Baseball.