The College of Central Florida (32-11, 10-6) has had a knack of coming from behind this season as 19 of their 32 wins have seen them trail in the game only to comeback and win. That was not the case on Monday as the Santa Fe College Saints built up a 6-0 lead and held on to beat the Patriots 7-6 in Gainesville.
Santa Fe (24-9, 13-2) opened the scoring in the first inning scoring two runs on doubles by Luis Rodriguez and Tyler Shelnut. Rodriguez's second double of the game brought home Jon Logsdon in the third inning to up the lead to 3-0. The very next batter, Dylan Mock drove home Rodriguez for a Saints 4-0 lead. Rodriguez was not quite finished yet as he doubled again in the fourth inning to drive in two more runs and give Santa Fe a 6-0 lead. Rodriguez finished the game 3 for 4, 3 doubles, 4 RBI.
After scoring a lone run in the fifth inning the Patriots opened the sixth inning with back-to-back home runs from Matt Cedarburg (7th) and Garrett Wallace (6th) to close the lead to 6-3. This seemed to energize the Pats bats as Kyler Hultgren walked, Nick Calero doubled and Edrick Felix hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-4.
Shelnut hit his seventh home run of the season in the bottom of the seventh inning for the Saints to increase the lead to 7-4.
The eighth inning started off for the Pats with back-to-back doubles by Wallace and Hultgren to get the Pats within two runs at 7-5. After loading the bases with no outs, the Pats' Jackson Taylor drove home Hultgren with a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to one. That is as close as the Pats would get as Saints relief pitcher Eduardo Yepes got the final two outs of the inning to stop the rally.
In the ninth the Saints sent their closer, Shelnut to the mound and he earned his 11th save of the season by allowing only one hit and striking out one. Saints starter Mitchel Gross got the win to improve to 5-2. Gross threw six innings allowing seven hits, four runs and had five strikeouts. Pats' starter Nick Love took the loss to fall to 5-3 on the season.
The battle of the top two teams in the Mid-Florida Conference will continue on Wednesday as Santa Fe visits Ocala to play the College of Central Florida at Goodlett Field. First pitch is at 3:00 p.m.