Natoli earns 500th career win after CUA downs Stevenson 8-6
STEVENSON, Md. – CUA Head Coach Ross Natoli made history on Saturday, earning his 500th career win with an 8-6 victory over Stevenson. Natoli is the second CUA coach to win 500 games, joining men's tennis coach Marty Dowd, who accomplished the feat in 2010. Following the win, the Cardinals are 17-10 overall on the season.
"I'm relieved that's it over and now we can get back to business," Natoli said afterwards. "It's really a credit to everyone who has played for me over the years. I've been lucky to have players and coaches who understand what it means to be consistent and to be successful."
Natoli was then asked if he ever thought about winning 500 games when he began coaching at CUA in 1985. "I never set goals in terms of winning a certain amount of games; I've always focused on making it a positive experience for our kids. I want to see our team play to the best of its ability and hopefully that results in our players performing at a high level and being successful."
CUA jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Stevenson with a run in the top of the first when Marc Hanna doubled home Matt Grieb.
The Mustangs came right back with two runs though to go in front by one.
Dave Grear then scored on a Mustangs error for CUA to tie the score at two in the second.
Four Cardinals crossed home plate in the third to give CUA a 6-2 advantage. Grieb reached on an error to start the inning and Colin McCarthy followed with a walk. Hanna then singled to center to load the bases.
Mark Kalokitis was next and his sac fly to left brought in Grieb. Two batters later, Grear singled to left to bring home Hanna and McCarthy, and with two outs, Dan Hinchcliff's ground out plated Brendan Breslin.
Stevenson made it 6-3 with a single run in the fourth, but Grieb's sacrifice fly in the sixth upped the Cards lead to four again.
The Mustangs answered with another single run in the bottom of the inning, and after Mitch Berman singled home Jordan Wright in the seventh, CUA's lead was down to just two.
Grieb's RBI single in the eighth brought home Hinchcliff to make it 8-5, but Stevenson refused to go away easily, scoring once in the ninth to get within two.
The Mustangs then loaded the bases with just one out before Wright was thrown out at home for the second out. Josh Morris came up to bat with a chance to get Stevenson closer, but he lined out to short and Natoli had career win No. 500.
Andrew Carroll earned the win for CUA after going 5.2 innings, striking out four and allowing two earned runs, while Kory Smigocki, Chris Nee and Thomas Travaglia came on in relief.
D. J. Milliken was dealt the loss after he gave up four earned runs on eight hits in six innings.
Grieb, Grear and Tim Mierzwa finished with two hits for the Cardinals, while Grieb and Grear drove in two runs each.
"This is truly a credit to the perseverance of our players and coaches; they are the keys to our success," Natoli said. "We want to compete on the highest levels of Division III and I think we've done a good job of that. We aren't in this business because it's easy, but because of the challenge. You play for the satisfaction of accomplishing something that is not easy."
The Cardinals close out their four-game road trip on Monday when they face Frostburg State at 3 p.m.