The John Carroll University baseball team has become accustomed to life away from home, and considering each of their first 22 games this season takes place on the road, the Blue Streaks have had to learn how to win all over again.
The Blue and Gold continued their early season road trip this past weekend, traveling to Indiana and losing to Wabash College, 5-1, before sweeping two games against Dominican University, winning 6-5 and 4-0, respectively.
The Blue Streaks opened the weekend against Wabash College on Saturday, March 16 and struggled to find their groove offensively. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Wabash broke open a scoreless tie, as defensive miscues and a clutch triple gave the host Little Giants a 4-0 lead through four innings. From there, the Blue Streaks could only respond with one run in the top of the eighth inning, eventually losing the game 5-1. Sophomore Mark Huddle went 2-4 at the plate, and freshman Aaron Lapaglia tossed four innings of one-run ball, striking out two batters along the way.
Following the loss to Wabash, the Blue Streaks rebounded with a win over Dominican later that same day.
JCU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead following an RBI single from sophomore David Lykens, allowing sophomore Bobby Sabatino to score in the bottom of the first. The following inning, the Blue Streaks tacked on another run as a sacrifice fly from senior Connor Marrero allowed senior Ryan Konsler to score from third base, increasing JCU’s lead to 2-0.
The Stars responded in the top of the third inning, firing back with three runs of their own to claim a 3-2 lead.
Trailing by one, the Blue Streaks didn’t respond until the bottom of the fifth inning. Lykens collected another single as he grounded out to first base, allowing senior Joe Veltri to score from third base and tying the game at three. Junior Mitch Herringshaw advanced to second on the play and Sabatino advanced to third, putting two runners in scoring position for junior Jimmy Spagna. Spagna delivered on his opportunity, smacking a single to right-center field to score Sabatino from third and give JCU a 4-3 lead through five innings.
The score remained the same until the top of the ninth inning, when Dominican reclaimed the lead with a two-run single, giving the Stars a 5-4 lead.
Trailing by one in the bottom of the ninth, the Blue Streaks had their backs against the wall. With Herringshaw on first base and Sabatino on third, Lykens again stepped to the plate with a chance to rake in yet another RBI. Fortunately for JCU, the sophomore again rose to the occasion as he grounded out to second base, allowing Sabatino to score and tie the game at five, thus forcing extra innings.
Three innings later, in the bottom of the 12th inning, junior Chet Lauer ripped an RBI single to left field, scoring freshman Robby Cifelli and giving the Blue Streaks a 6-5 win in extra innings.
The following day, on Sunday, March 17, the Blue Streaks didn’t need quite as much drama to defeat the Stars. JCU used four separate one-run innings to pull off a 4-0 win. Sophomore Andrew Doring stifled the Stars’ offense, pitching six shutout innings while striking out six batters as well. With two wins in three games, the Blue Streaks improved to 10-4 overall, despite all of those games taking place on the road.
“We’ve kind of gotten used to the long road trips, and once we get on the field, we don’t even focus on home or away,” said Herringshaw.
With 12 of their final 18 games taking place at home this season, the Blue Streaks know that if they can survive life on the road early in the season, the future will be much brighter.
“We expected to have a very solid team this year, and we know that we don’t have that many holes [as a team],” added Herringshaw. We believe this start is something we can continue through the rest of the season.”