Head baseball coach Marc Thibeault and the John Carroll Blue Streaks opened the 2013 campaign last weekend in Beckley, W.Va., with a talent-laden squad that has high expectations. After three well pitched games and an offensive explosion on Saturday afternoon, the Blue and Gold returned home with a 2-1 record and are primed for a Spring Break trip to Port Charlotte, Fla.
JCU opened play on Friday morning against backyard rival Case Western Reserve University, which enters 2013 off of the two best seasons in its program’s history.
Junior pitcher Jimmy Spagna took the hill for the Blue Streaks after making a program-record 13 starts in 2012. He would throw five good innings and allow only two earned runs, but walked away with a tough-luck loss in the 4-3 defeat.
Senior centerfielder Joe Veltri had a tremendous opening day, going 3-for-5 on the afternoon. Veltri scored the first run of the season on junior third baseman Mitch Herringshaw’s double to right-center field. Veltri also had an RBI single in the second inning. Though JCU tied the ball game at 3-3 on sophomore second baseman Bobby Sabatino’s RBI base-knock in the home half of the fourth, the Spartans got an unearned run in the top of the fifth that put them ahead for good.
Despite the loss, JCU cranked out 11 hits and had at least one base-runner in every inning.
John Carroll took out its frustrations from the hard-fought loss against the Allegheny Gators on Saturday during both games of a double header.
In the first game, senior designated hitter Aaron Miller blasted the first pitch he saw in the top of the second inning over the scoreboard in left field to give John Carroll a 1-0 lead. Allegheny got a run back in the top of the fifth frame, but Spagna’s 2-out, 2-run double in the home half put the Blue Streaks ahead, 3-1.
The Gators would not go away though, scoring in both the sixth and seventh innings to tie the game at 3-3, as a dramatic finish drew near.
Senior catcher Chet Lauer led off the home half of the ninth inning with a sharp single to left-center field. Sabatino bunted Lauer to second, and after a pitching change, Veltri and freshman outfielder Rob Cifelli drew walks to load the bases for Herringshaw (a 2012 All-Mideast Region infielder).
Just as he did all throughout 2012, the slugging third baseman came through for John Carroll’s first win of 2013. Herringshaw hit a sacrifice fly to left field, allowing Lauer to score and securing the 4-3 walk-off win.
Sophomore pitcher Anthony Libertini tossed 5.2 strong innings, allowing only two earned runs while striking out five.
While the first contest came down to the wire, the back end of the doubleheader held little drama, as Thibeault and company rolled to an 8-1 win.
John Carroll exploded for six runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by a bases clearing, three-run double by Herringshaw and a mammoth two-run round-tripper from Spagna. Sophomore shortstop Mark Huddle added a solo blast in the ninth inning for good measure. Sophomore pitcher Andrew Doring shut down the Gators in 5.2 innings, allowing only one run on four base hits while punching out six.
Collectively, the Blue Streaks banged out 30 base hits and limited Case and Allegheny to only one multi-run inning. Furthermore, the Blue and Gold did not make an error in either game on Saturday.
The Blue Streaks begin a stretch of eight games in the Sunshine State on Sunday, March 3 with a double header against Bluffton University. All eight games will be broadcast live on jcusports.com.