WASHINGTON - In the ninth inning of its final regular season game, The Catholic University of America baseball team trailed the Juniata Eagles 2-1. In what could be his final career at-bat, Catholic senior Andrew Stewart stepped to the plate with two outs and runner on third in the bottom of the ninth. After falling down, 1-2, in the count, Stewart watched a fastball come right down the middle and he ripped it over the right field wall for a 2-run walk of homer and a 3-2 Catholic victory.
With the Sunday afternoon win, the Cardinals swept the three game series over the Eagles winning the first two games in a double header shutout (3-0, 6-0) on Saturday. They finish the regular season 20-19 overall and 10-11 in the Landmark Conference.
After scoring zero runs on Saturday, the Eagles started off the Sunday afternoon, nine-inning game, with a 2-run homer in the top of the first inning. Juniata was unable to get anything else across in the remaining inning and held Catholic through the sixth.
In the bottom of the seventh Catholic sophomore Danny O'Hagan led the Cards off with a solo-homer. Sophomore Anthony Ferlise walked next, followed by a single from senior Stefan Poggioli. The Eagles retired the next three batters but the Cardinals found their glimpse of hope in the series finale.
Sophomore Jack Hennessy got things going for Catholic in the bottom of the ninth when he dropped single over the shortstop's head. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Poggioli. Sophomore Matt Hsiung grounded out next giving Juniata the two out advantage. Just as the Eagles could begin to taste the conference victory, Stewart lifted the ball up and over the right field wall during his heroic at-bat. The Cardinals dugout errupted as he rounded the bases and walked off the field with a 3-2 Catholic victory.
Freshman Mason Belcher threw for the first six innings of the Sunday afternoon game, dealing six Ks. Freshman Collin Brown and junior Mark Duffy each pitched an inning of relief before junior Joseph Salzano took the mound to close the game. Salzano pitched the final three outs and earned his first win of 2016.
Catholic's Landmark Conference post-season fate will be determined by the results of the University of Scranton and Drew University series finale. The Royals and Rangers are slated to play their final game Monday, May 2 at 4 p.m. The Cardinals will advance to the Landmark Conference semifinals with a victory from the University of Scranton Royals.