While waiting for frozen baseball fields to thaw out in Ohio, the John Carroll University baseball team opened their 2014 season on the road in Beckley, W.Va. this past weekend. The Blue Streaks fell to Case Western Reserve University on Friday, Feb. 21 before splitting a doubleheader with Allegheny College on Saturday to start the season 1-2 overall.
Playing their season opener against CWRU on Friday, the Blue Streaks started the 2014 campaign off with a bang – literally. After sophomore Robby Cifelli drew a leadoff walk to start the game, senior Jimmy Spagna cranked a two-out, two-run home run to give the Blue and Gold a 2-0 lead.
Sophomore pitcher Aaron Lapaglia took the hill for the Blue Streaks, and immediately went to work. Lapaglia, a second-team All-OAC selection last season, retired the Spartans in order to preserve JCU’s 2-0 lead after one inning.
In the top of the second inning, sophomore David Crowley joined the home run club by leading off the inning with a solo homer, pushing the Blue Streaks’ lead to 3-0. After Lapaglia shut down the Spartans again in the second, JCU added to its lead.
Senior Mitch Herringshaw sparked a two-out rally in the third inning with a single to left field. Herringshaw then picked up his first steal of the season, putting himself in scoring position. Spagna took advantage of the scoring opportunity, smacking a double to center field to collect his third RBI of the day and push the lead to 4-0. The Spartans plated one run in the bottom of the third, cutting the deficit to 4-1.
CWRU scored one more run in the fourth inning, and did even more damage in the fifth. The Spartans used an RBI triple, double and single, in that order, to plate three runs in the fifth inning and claim a 5-4 lead.
CWRU’s Zach Tobias homered for the Spartans to lead off the bottom of the eighth and sparked a three-run inning to give CWRU an 8-4 lead.
Facing a four-run deficit with just three outs to go, the Blue Streaks needed an offensive surge. With two outs and Cifelli on second base, Herringshaw and Spagna ripped consecutive doubles to cut the deficit to 8-6. After a fielding error by CWRU’s Jordan Swisher, senior Chet Lauer reached second base and Spagna came around to score, bringing JCU to within one run. However, the rally would be cut short before the Blue Streaks could tie it, resulting in an 8-7 loss to the Spartans.
“It was tough to lose in that fashion, especially when we felt we should have won had we executed a little better,” said Herringshaw. “It was good to at least show that we can fight back late in the game as that will be very valuable this year.”
Looking to reverse their fortunes in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader against Allegheny, the Blue Streaks did just that. Cifelli started the game off with a leadoff triple, sparking a six-run first inning that was highlighted by a bases-clearing double by junior Jake Schoch.
In the third inning, Lauer scored on a sacrifice fly from Shoch, his fourth RBI of the game, and the Blue Streak led 7-0 through three innings. JCU tacked on two more runs in the fourth and one more in the fifth, posting a 10-0 lead. The Gators would fight back, but it was too little, too late as the Blue Streaks held on for the 12-6 win.
In game two of the doubleheader, the Blue Streaks and Gators seemingly did a role reversal, as Allegheny routed JCU 12-2.
Editor’s Note: The Blue Streaks will travel to Port Charlotte, Fla. over spring break for eight games in seven days split between both Port Charlotte and Fort Myers, Fla.