Entering their matchup with Case Western Reserve University on Friday, April 8, the John Carroll University baseball team had an 0-8 record when trailing after eight innings. So heading into the top of the ninth trailing 6-4, the picture appeared gloomy for the Blue Streaks.
Doubters be darned, JCU surprised the Spartans and scored three runs to earn a 7-6 victory.
The Blue Streaks had built a 3-1 lead by the top of the third, but the wheels fell off the bus for JCU starter Christopher Hanley in the third and fourth. The freshman, making his first collegiate start, surrendered two runs in each inning to allow the Spartans to steal the lead, 5-3. Freshman Joseph Franke ended the damage in the fourth, recording the final out of the frame and pitching a flawless fifth.
The JCU bats reawakened in the sixth to bring the game to within one run. Freshman Derek Penman grounded out to second to score James Molnar, who tagged a triple on the previous at-bat.
Sophomore Steven Virost allowed one run in two innings of work for the Blue Streaks before Mark Pisanello took the mound in the eighth. The senior kept Case off the board, sending the game to the top of the ninth with the Spartans in the lead, 6-4.
A hectic ninth followed a quiet eighth.
The frame began with two CWRU errors and a Donnelly single, loading the bases with no outs. Following a Jacob Schriner strikeout, Molnar walked to score Crowley. Pinch hitter Jason Large then struck out, setting the stage for a do-or-die at-bat for Mike Raschilla. The sophomore delivered, singling to score Donnelly to tie the contest. Cifelli then came through in the clutch with a single, bringing in Tyler Gentile from third and granting JCU a 7-6 lead. Following a groundout, the contest headed to the ninth.
Confronted by the heart of the Spartans’ order, Pisanello did not buckle. The Alliance native mowed down the Spartans in order, securing his first win of the season and the team’s ninth.
The Blue Streaks followed up the comeback win with back-to-back victories over Wilmington College on April 12. In game one, JCU used an explosive offensive effort to trump the Fighting Quakers, 14-5. They followed up that performance with another big victory in game two of the double-header, this time by a score of 9-2.
Editor’s Note: The John Carroll University baseball team returned to action on Wednesday, April 13 for a double-header against the University of Mount Union in University Heights, Ohio. Head to jcusports.com for a full game recap and box score.