Following a 5-3 start to the season in Florida, the John Carroll University baseball team has lost four straight games, including three losses in a row to Manchester University this past weekend.
The Blue and Gold hit the road on Friday, March 11, bound for Kokomo, Indiana for a three-game series against the Spartans.
The first contest on Saturday, March 12, featured a pitching duel between two aces. The two starting pitchers shut down the offenses in the first three innings, until JCU relented in the fourth.
Eric Knepper struck out to start the inning, but reached base on a wild pitch. Tailur Szarenski then singled to right field and advanced to second on a throwing error, and to third when Knepper unsuccessfully tried to take home on the error. In the next at-bat, Sean Knepper drove in Szarenski on a single to right. The unearned run granted Manchester a 1-0 lead.
Sean Knepper came through in the clutch for Manchester again in the seventh, as the senior added an insurance run by way of a solo homerun over the wall in left center.
The Blue Streaks threatened to retaliate in the ninth, as three runners reached base with two outs in the frame, but Kopplin forced a popout to secure the complete game shutout.
The second game of the day saw a similar start, as Manchester grabbed an early lead against starter senior Brandon Maddern. Cory Ferguson knocked an RBI single to the left side of the field and a fielding error allowed a second run to cross the plate later in the inning.
The offenses then remained quiet until the fifth. Eric Knepper and Szarenski each tallied RBI singles and Sean Knepper hit a sacrifice fly to right field to plate three for the Spartans, setting the lead at 5-0.
The Spartans added two more runs in the seventh, and walked away with a 7-0 win.
In the third game of the series, played on Sunday, March 13, JCU’s bats finally came alive when freshman Patrick Keohane tagged an RBI single up the middle to score senior Rob Cifelli in the first inning.
The one-run lead lasted for a while, as junior Drew Vargo blanked the Spartans until the sixth inning. After a quiet afternoon, Manchester erupted for six runs in the sixth. Vargo left midway through the fifth after allowing two. The bullpen could not stop the onslaught, allowing the Spartans to carry a five-run lead into the later stages of the contest.
The Blue Streaks managed to score a run in the eighth on a sac fly by senior Tyler Gentile, as well in the ninth on a single by junior Patrick Scholla, but the rally was not enough, as Mason Neuman earned the save for the Spartans.
With the losses, JCU drops to 5-7 on the season. The Blue Streaks return to action on Saturday, March 19, heading to Greenville, Pennsylvania for a doubleheader against Thiel College.