Bases loaded, two outs and a tie game. This is a situation that every baseball player dreams of when they are growing up.
This was the situation that John Carroll University senior first baseman Warren Ciabattoni faced in JCU’s second game of their doubleheader with defending Division III national champions Marietta College on Saturday.
While playing the defending national champions may have been intimidating, JCU did not sweat the reputation that Marietta had coming into the game. “We didn’t buy into the hype of them being national champs,” junior Joe Bott said, “our whole conference is strong but anyone can win on any given day.”
Ciabattoni laced a line drive single to left field to drive home junior Sean McCarthy for the game winning run.
The night cap victory came on the tails of a quiet first game, as JCU fell 3-1, scoring their lone run in the bottom of the sixth. JCU sophomore Michael Krainz drove in McCarthy to get JCU on the scoreboard late.
The nightcap would have more fireworks as Ciabattoni’s single came as part of a comeback from a four run deficit early in the game.
Marietta jumped to an early lead, with one run coming in the first and three more in the third thanks to a three run home run from Marietta junior Tom Doty.
Despite the early deficit, JCU struck back with a rally of their own, bringing in three runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at four.
Playing catch-up was JCU’s role for the day as Marietta would re-extend their lead by one. JCU would strike back, this time sophomore Russell Toth driving in the equalizer.
After shutting down the Marietta attack in the top of the seventh, JCU would load the bases on two errors by the Marietta infield before Ciabattoni would knock in the winning run to earn the split with the defending national champions.
“It was a huge play,” Bott said. “We needed the win and extra innings are always unpredictable.”
The split with Marietta did little for JCU in the standings as they did not move up or down, sitting directly behind their opponents from Saturday at 8-5 in the Ohio Athletic Conference standings.
“We will have to see if the win acts as a turning point,” Bott added. “But it really should push us to the playoffs.”
The two victories that came last Wednesday against Muskingum were a true boost for JCU.
With a 6-5 record in the OAC, good for fourth at the time, JCU needed victories to climb the OAC ladder. They received both wins in the sweep of Muskingum at Schweickert Field by scores of 4-2 and 9-3.
A four run second inning powered JCU past Muskingum in the first game. Receiving scoring from freshman Mike Carbo and Bott, each with an RBI. McCarthy added two RBI of his own.
Junior Brandon Kurtz carried JCU the rest of the way, recording five strikeouts in the complete game.
JCU again jumped to an early lead in the night cap with a 3-0 lead after the second inning and a 5-2 lead after the third. However the game remained in question until the fifth inning when JCU would add the needed runs to put the game out of reach.
McCarthy would score on an error and junior Adam Sockel would drive in sophomore Michael Krainz on a sacrifice fly.
JCU will not see another conference game until Saturday when they travel to Capital, the team who sits two games behind JCU in the OAC standings.
With two wins JCU will solidify their playoff position and give them an opportunity to climb up another spot in the standings.
JCU earned a non-conference split with Case on Sunday, winning 14-5 and dropping the night cap in an 11-9 shootout.
JCU was paced by Sockel who went 5-7 on the day recording 7 RBI and scoring three runs.
It was the JCU pitching that let them down in the nightcap as JCU used four pitchers in the loss, none going longer than four innings.
JCU was in action yesterday with their neighbor Notre Dame and hope to take the season series with Case today at 4:00 p.m.
“These non-conference games can prepare us for what we need to do in our remaining conference games,” Bott commented.
As of now, the game to watch will be Saturday’s match-up with Capital. The double header will have numerous playoff implications as the Blue Streaks hope to climb into a better position for the postseason.
While JCU currently holds a playoff spot, a pair of wins would guarantee JCU a position in the second season.