Myrtle Beach, S.C. - While the annual spring break trip to Myrtle Beach provided warm weather, The Catholic University of America baseball team's bats were even hotter. The team averaged over fourteen hits per game on the way to a 3-1 week.
After falling in an extra innings battle against Johnson & Wales (RI), Catholic bounced back strong, winning each of its next three games by at least six runs. Notably, the Cards knocked off nationally ranked No. 18 Mary Washington, who came into the game as one of the hottest teams in the country at 9-0.
On Monday, Feb. 29, the Cardinals took on Johnsopn and Wales. Junior Karan Sinha took the mound, throwing a solid five innings, only giving up four hits and two runs. Despite three-hit efforts at the plate from senior Eric Scamardella and sophomore Anthony Ferlise, Catholic played from behind until the ninth inning. An RBI double from sophomore Jake Crist tied the game. However, the comeback was not meant to be. Senior Stefan Poggioli was thrown out attempting to score from first and the Wildcats got a walk-off single from third baseman Carlos Sanabria in the bottom of the 10th.
The team bounced back strong on Tuesday when the battled York (Pa.). Senior John Palladino crushed the second pitch of the game over the left field fence for the early 1-0 lead. The Cards never looked back, grabbing a 7-0 lead with a six run third that included the first career home run for sophomore Matt Hsiung. After York walked the bases loaded, senior Andrew Stewart singled to left field and Ferlise and junior Paul Burmester hit back-to-back doubles to break open the game.
Ferlise wasn't done however, as he hit the Cardinals' third home run of the day in the eighth inning, CUA's first three home run game since April 14, 2013. Sophomore Jack Hennessy cruised on the mound, throwing a strong eight innings, allowing only one earned run and striking out four. Freshman Collin Brown made the first appearance of his career, striking out one in a clean ninth inning.
On Wednesday, the Cardinals encountered No. 18 Mary Washington, facing off against preseason All-American Pitcher Ryan Van Assche. Despite the accolades, Van Assche was no match for Catholic's bats, as they scored 6 runs in two innings, chasing the starter from the game.
In the first start of his career, freshman Bailey Lewis set the tone, crushing a 2-RBI triple to center field in the bottom of the first. Not to be outdone, Palladino, Scamardella, Poggioli, and Crist each laced RBI singles in the second to take an early 6-1 lead.
Mary Washington did not go down easily, as they battled for two runs in the third, followed by one more in each of the fifth, sixth, and ninth. However by that point, the Cardinals had put the game away, boosted by a seven run fourth inning. After Scamardella, Poggioli, and Crist each singled, Lewis and Ferlise followed with back-to-back sac flies. Later in the inning, sophomore Danny O'Hagan earned his second and third RBIs of the day on a single into center, while Palladino laced a 2-RBI double into right, effectively ending the Eagles' chances at a comeback. Joe Kelly earned the win for CUA, throwing 5 innings and 8 strikeouts while allowing only three earned runs.
In Cardinals final game of the week CUA mashed a season-high 18 hits on the way to yet another big win. Crist (2-3, 4 RBI) and Lewis (3-4, 3 RBI) led the way for the Cards, but it was a total team effort, as seven starters had multi-hit days against the Mid-Atlantic foe.
The team used a six run fifth inning followed by a five run seventh inning to put the game out of reach and go to 3-0 vs. the vaunted Capital Athletic Conference on the year.
Freshman Mason Belcher finished a strong week by earning the first start and win of his career, throwing six innings of three-run ball. Brown threw a hitless seventh, while junior Joseph Salzano continued his domination of opposing batters, throwing his third scoreless inning of the season, striking out two.
The Cardinals will travel to Fredricksburg, Va., Sun., March 6 for a rematch against the No. 18 Mary Washington Eagles. They will travel to Stevenson University Wed., March 9, before retuning home to host Hood College in a double header, Sat., March 12.