Hitting played a crucial factor for John Carroll University’s baseball team, as they split two games with fellow Ohio Athletic Conference member Mount Union College last Sunday at Schweickert Field.
In the first game, Mount Union limited JCU batters to six hits, as the Purple Raiders won 5-1.
Unfortunately, Mount Union’s hitters came ready. In the top of the first inning, MUC junior Andy Warner doubled to right center. Warner’s double scored Jason Evans, who had reached base in a previous at-bat and put Mount Union up 1-0.
After going scoreless in the second, Mount Union was fired up to start the third. With two outs, senior Josh Faltot doubled to left center, and earned two RBI when Dave Bogner and Warner scored off the hit. A single by Jon Schulz scored Faltot, and the Purple Raiders would extend their lead to 4-0.
Although Mount Union would score another run in the fourth inning, it would not be needed. JCU’s lone run would occur in the bottom of the sixth, when sophomore Russell Toth scored after senior Warren Ciabattoni tripled to center field.
Ciabattoni led the Blue Streaks in the first game with two hits and one RBI. Juniors Matt Fort and Brandon Kurtz pitched for JCU. Fort picked up his second loss of the season while allowing five runs in 3.1 innings pitched. Kurtz relieved him, and was able to limit Mount Union to three hits.
In the second game, the batting power was on JCU’s side, as six Blue Streaks had two hits while beating Mount Union 7-3.
JCU’s first run came in the bottom of the first inning. Junior Adam Sockel hit a ball through the right side, which scored junior Sean McCarthy who had singled earlier.
The score stood at 1-0 until the bottom of the fourth inning. Toth led off, doubling to right field. Ciabattoni followed right after with a single that allowed Toth to score and put JCU up by two.
However, Mount Union would not be counted out. In the top of the sixth inning, Thomas Pfaus scored after Jon Suntala hit a single and drove Pfaus home. The damage would be limited, though, as JCU sophomore Chris Cairo would tag Bogner out at the plate.
In the bottom of the sixth, JCU would explode, batting through the entire order. Sockel led off, hitting a double to right center. Toth followed with a single, which scored Sockel. Ciabattoni came to the plate, and also hit a single. Cairo hit another single, driving in Toth.
The Blue Streaks were not done doing damage that inning. With two outs and two runners on base, freshman Mike Carbo came to the plate. He singled to left field, bringing in both Ciabattoni and Cairo.
Junior Sean McCarthy followed shortly after with a single of his own to bring in Carbo. Sophomore Matt Pangallo would end the inning with a ground out, but not before the Blue Streaks went up 7-1.
Mount Union would score two unearned runs in the top of the seventh, but the deficit was too much to overcome for the Purple Raiders.
Carbo led the Blue Streaks with two hits, one run and two RBI. Senior Matt McKinnon picked up the win for JCU, with his record now standing at 4-0. In 5.1 innings pitched, McKinnon only gave up seven hits. Junior Marty Smith finished the game, earning his second save of the season.
John Carroll now stands at 9-5, 1-1 in the OAC. Mount Union falls to 5-9, 1-1 in the OAC.
Carbo said that the team must improve upon two things in future OAC games. “Our intensity level from the start of the game all the way to the finish needs to be consistent, and we have to capitalize on missed opportunities throughout the game,” he said.
McKinnon added, “I think we learned how important it is to score first in conference games. It is very difficult to play catch up against teams that are in the OAC.”
On Wednesday, JCU played at Allegheny at 1 p.m. Scores for these games were not available at press time. On Saturday, March 31, the Blue Streaks will return to Schweickert Field to face Ohio Northern University. Game one of the doubleheader will start at 1 p.m.
When asked about home field advantage, Ciabattoni felt that it plays a major role. He said, “Playing at the Schweick is definitely an advantage. The Schweick’s dimensions reduce the propensity of the long ball.”
Several other Blue Streaks shared their sentiments of playing at home, including Carbo who said, “Playing at home means you get to play on the field you practice on everyday.”
Added McKinnon, “It is nice to play in front of our loyal fan base on campus; it’s something we look forward to as a team.”
When JCU returns from Easter Break, the Blue Streaks will play at home on April 10 and face neighborhood rival Case Western Reserve at 4 p.m.