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JCU baseball dominates Wilmington in doubleheader

April 11th, 2013

The John Carroll University baseball team put together an impressive weekend on the road, as they swept the host Wilmington Quakers in an Ohio Athletic Conference doubleheader on Saturday, April 6. The Blue Streaks used a late three-run rally to win the first game 5-3 before manhandling the Quakers in game two by a final score of 20-0.

Coming into Saturday’s games against Wilmington, the Blue and Gold had dropped two consecutive games to both Baldwin Wallace and Denison, losing 13-10 and 17-4, respectively. However, the Blue Streaks transitioned back to their winning ways against the Quakers.

In game one of the doubleheader, the Quakers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning before JCU responded in the top of the fifth. An RBI double from freshman Rob Cifelli allowed for sophomore Mark Huddle to score from second, cutting the deficit to 2-1 for JCU. Immediately following the RBI hit by Cifelli, sophomore Bobby Sabatino knocked in an RBI of his own with a single that allowed senior Connor Marrero to score and tie the game at two.

After shutting down the Quakers in the bottom half of the fifth, the score remained tied at two heading into the sixth inning.

Wilmington was able to squeak in a run in the bottom of the sixth to give themselves a narrow 3-2 lead heading into the seventh and final inning.

In the top of the seventh inning, Cifelli started the Blue Streaks’ rally with a lead-off walk. Sabatino was then able to reach base following a fielding error by Wilmington’s third basemen, giving JCU runners on first and second with no outs. Junior Mitch Herringshaw, who currently leads the team with a .438 batting average, then ripped a single to load the bases for the Blue Streaks. Following a pitching change by the Quakers, senior Aaron Miller singled through the left side of the infield to score Cifelli from third and tie the game at three.

With the game tied at three and no outs yet for JCU, senior Ryan Konsler lifted a sacrifice-fly to left field that allowed Sabatino to score from third, giving the Blue Streaks a 4-3 lead. Freshman Tyler Gentile eventually drew a bases-loaded walk that allowed Herringshaw to score, giving JCU a 5-3 lead going into the bottom of the seventh. From there, freshman Zach Verner closed out the game with three consecutive outs, sealing a 5-3 win for the Blue Streaks.

Following the narrow victory in game one, the Blue Streaks wasted no time in securing the lead early in game two.

A five-run first inning for the Blue Streaks was highlighted by a double-steal by Huddle and Konsler, who stole second and home plate, respectively.

Two runs in the second inning increased the Blue Streaks’ lead to 7-0 before they broke the flood gates wide open in the third inning.

A pair of two-run homers from both junior Jimmy Spagna and Konsler played key roles in a six-run third inning, where the Blue Streaks watched their lead balloon to 13-0 over Wilmington. From there, the Blue and Gold were reluctant to take their foot off the gas, winning game two of the doubleheader by a whopping score of 20-0.

In game two alone, Konsler and Spagna went a combined 8-for-8 at the plate while recording nine RBI’s and scoring six runs themselves. Sabatino and Miller each recorded three hits a piece to help guide the offense as well. Senior Patrick O’Brien tossed six innings while allowing only five hits and striking out four.

“It was crucial to take both [games] from Wilmington,” said Spagna. “The bats finally came alive like they were in Florida, and it was great to see. We needed to rebound after our previous two losses, and I felt that we responded quite well.”

With the win, the Blue Streaks have now four of their last six and sit at 15-8 overall.

“[These wins were] very important. We knew we had to come out of there with two wins to stay near the top of the OAC standings, especially with tough matchups this week against Mount Union and Otterbein,” said Herringshaw.