E.J. Columbo sets an NCAA hits record as No. 1 ranked University of Tampa sweeps St. Leo to clinch the Sunshine State Conference title.

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UNIVERSITY OF TAMPA BASEBALL STADIUM- PHOTO/UT

TAMPA, Fla. – The No. 1 University of Tampa Spartans took both games of Saturday’s doubleheader against No. 3 Saint Leo University to complete the series sweep over the Lions. The Spartans are now three full games ahead of the Lions in the Sunshine State Conference standings with three games to play.

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Needing two hits to tie the all-time NCAA Division II hits record, E.J. Cumbo set the record with three hits in game one. The record-breaking hit was an eighth-inning home run that drew a standing ovation from the home crowd. The previous mark was 366 career hits.

Game One Final: #1 Tampa Spartans 9, #3 Saint Leo Lions 3

Game Two Final: #1 Tampa Spartans 7, #3 Saint Leo Lions 5

Records: Tampa (42-5, 23-4 SSC), Saint Leo (37-9, 20-7 SSC)

Location: UT Baseball Field | Tampa, Fla. 

All-Time Series: The Spartans now hold a commanding 140-47 all-time record against the Lions.

GAME ONE

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • Santiago Garavito went to the opposite field to plate the first run on a double down the rightfield line, scoring Mike Valdez1-0 Tampa | Bottom 2 
  • Garavito added two more runs on the Spartans column with a 2-run home run, also scoring Brayden Woodburn. 3-0 Tampa | Bottom 4 
  • UT extended its lead as Nico Saladino scored for the Spartans. 4-0 Tampa | Bottom 5
  • After a solo home run in top of the sixth for the Lions, Garavito drove in two more runs with another double. Saladino would then score Garavito on a double for the third UT run of the inning. 7-1 Tampa | Bottom 6 
  • Saint Leo added a solo home run in both the seventh and eighth innings. 7-3 Tampa | Top 8 
  • Cumbo’s record-setting hit was a two-run home run to extend the UT lead to six runs. 9-3 Tampa | Bottom 8

AT THE PLATE:

  • Cumbo: 3-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R
  • J.P. Gates: 2-3, 1 R
  • Valdez: 2-3, 1 R
  • Garavito: 3-3, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R
  • Saladino: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R

ON THE MOUND:

  • Skylar Gonzalez improved to 13-0 on the season as he went a season-high 7.0 innings.
  • Gates moved to the mound for his second save of the season. He tossed 2.0 scoreless innings without allowing a hit.

GAME TWO

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • The game remained scoreless through 4-and-a-half innings before Gates singled home Anthony Nunez1-0 Tampa | Bottom 5 
  • Saint Leo took its first lead of the series with a 4-run sixth inning. 4-1 SLU | Top 6 
  • Danny Gutcher added a Spartan run with a solo home run in the sixth inning. 4-2 SLU | Bottom 6 
  • The Lions responded with a run of their own on a Spartan error. 5-2 SLU | Top 7 
  • Gates put the Spartans within one run with a 2-run homer, scoring Stephen Klein. 5-4 SLU | Bottom 7 
  • Cumbo put Tampa back on top for good with a three-run home run, scoring Saladino and Valdez7-5 Tampa | Bottom 8

AT THE PLATE:

  • Cumbo: 3-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R
  • Gates: 2-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R

ON THE MOUND:

  • Jake Stipp started for UT and tossed 5.1 innings. He allowed three runs while striking out six in the no-decision.
  • The first Spartan reliever was Eli Thurmond, who pitched 2.2 innings to register the win as he moved to 3-0 on the season. He allowed just one earned run with four strikeouts.
  • Third baseman Nunez shifted to the mound, throwing a 1-2-3 ninth with a strikeout for his second save of the season.

UP NEXT: No. 1 Tampa heads to Boca Raton for a three-game series at Lynn to conclude the regular season. Already clinching at least a share of the 2024 SSC Championship, the Spartans need just one victory to win outright. Head coach Joe Urso now stands at 997 career wins as a series sweep would represent a milestone win for the Tampa head coach.

The No. 1 University of Tampa Spartans opened its Sunshine State Conference series with fellow frontrunner and No, 3 Saint Leo University with a 12-2 victory in front of a season-record 1,200 fans at the UT Baseball Field. The game also represented alumni day as UT honored members of the 1993 and 2013 national championship teams with several members of each team in attendance.

Final: No. 1 Tampa Spartans 12, No. 3 Saint Leo Lions 2

Records: Tampa (40-5, 21-4 SSC), Saint Leo (37-7, 20-5 SSC)

Location: UT Baseball Field | Tampa, Fla. 

All-Time Series: The Spartans now lead the all-time series 138-47. UT has now won 11 of its last 12 meetings with the Lions at home.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • Tampa started strong with three in its first trip to the plate. Stephen Klein and J.P. Gates each had an RBI single as Mike Valdez would drive in the third run of the frame. Bot 1 | 3-1 UT
  • After the Lions scored in the second and fifth innings to cut the lead to 3-2, Tampa had a 4-run fifth as Brayden Woodburn started the scoring with an RBI double. Jake Griffith added an RBI single as Anthony Nunez followed with a 2-run single. Bot 5 | 7-2 UT 
  • UT added three in the sixth as Woodburn had a 2-run single. Valdez also drove in a run. Bot 6 | 10-2 UT 
  • The Spartans extended their lead even more with a sacrifice fly from Maddox KingGates would then score the game’s 12th run on a wild pitch. Bot 7 | 12-2