Blue Streaks split OAC opening series

March 26th, 2009

After returning from their Spring Break trip to Florida with warm bats that powered the Blue Streaks to an 8-1 start, it appeared those bats had become cold along with the weather in their return to Cleveland.

On the trip, the Blue Streaks offense exploded for 87 runs in nine games. In their first three games back in Ohio, they mustered just nine runs.

Any worries about the offense went away, at least for the time being, after a weekend trip to Bexley, Ohio to battle Ohio Athletic Conference foe Capital University in the conference opener for both schools.

The Blue Streak offense supplied 24 runs in the two-game series that saw both teams come away with a victory.

In retrospect, JCU probably should’ve left Bexley with a sweep under their belt.

In the first game of the doubleheader, the Blue Streaks held a 5-0 lead in the fifth inning until three JCU errors allowed eight Crusaders to touch home plate in the bottom of the fifth.

Those were the only eight runs Capital would get in game one, but it was all they would need as JCU could only tack on one more run, falling 8-6.

Senior pitcher Paul O’Donnell dropped his first game of the season, his record falling to 2-1.

In the second game, the offense really came alive – and it came alive early.

With the bases loaded, sophomore John Hastings, back from a hamstring injury, laced a three-run double that gave JCU an early lead. The Blue Streaks tacked on three more runs in the first, another in the second, and three runs in the third to jump out to a commanding 10-0 lead.

The Crusaders cut the lead in half at 10-5, but four more Blue Streak runs in the fifth would provide more than enough for the JCU pitching staff.

A run in the seventh and three more in the eighth propelled the Blue Streaks to a blowout 18-9 victory.

In the two games, senior catcher Chris Cairo had seven hits, three of which were doubles, and drove in six runs. Cairo was supported by freshman Tom Hickey who was five for nine, and drove in four runs, all of them coming in game two of the doubleheader. Sophomore third baseman Brian Benander scored five of the 18 runs in game two, tying a school record.

“Chris [Cairo] had one of those days where the ball looked the size of a beachball,” said head coach Marc Thibeault.

An area of concern for the Blue Streaks could be the eight errors committed in the two games with Capital. In this series alone, the errors led to seven unearned runs.

Thibeault didn’t seem overly concerned, although JCU has historically struggled defensively, finishing in the bottom-half of the conference in fielding percentage in each of the past seven seasons.

That stat can be a bit deceiving.

“We came out of Florida with a .980 fielding percentage, which was one of the best in the nation,” Thibeault said. “A lot of the instances in the Capital games were a result of our pitchers throwing too many pitches.”