It wasn't the prettiest game of the year, but when the dust settles, it could be one of the Saints biggest wins of the year.
The Santa Fe Saints and St. Johns River Vikings combined for eight errors and stranded 18 runners on base with nine of the 11 runs scored unearned, but the Saints prevailed in a 7-4 win over the Vikings Sunday afternoon in Gainesville.
The Saints took a 5-0 lead with two runs in the third inning and three more in the fourth managing just three hits but taking advantage of four SJR errors, two hit batters, an intentional walk and a passed ball.
"We were able to get some big hits and take advantage of some SJR errors to get an early lead," said SF head coach Johnny Wiggs
Meanwhile, Saints starter Michael Paul (8-2) pitched into the seventh inning scattering four hits with three walks and six strikeouts to earn the win. The Vikings cut their deficit to two runs at 6-4 when Rhyan Romano hit a three-run home run in the seventh, an inning extended by a Saints error.
"Michael Paul pitched really well," said Wiggs. "He battled out of some tough spots. He just made one bad pitch."
Kyler Marquis and Cade Westbrook each had two hits for the Saints while Marquis also drove in two. The bottom two hitters in the Saints lineup, Jonathan Logsdon and Caleb Stafford, each scored two runs as did leadoff hitter Brock Edge.
The Saints (36-14, 16-8 MFC) will now travel to Palatka on Monday to face the Vikings (34-16, 15-9 MFC) in game two of the best-of-three series scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
If the Saints win Monday they will advance to the Florida College System Activities Association State Tournament as the second seed out of the Mid-Florida Conference. If the Vikings win Monday the two teams will meet again on Tuesday in Gainesville at 3 p.m.
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