Cardinals Season Closes with a Pair of Losses in Landmark Conference Tournament

Cardinals Season Closes with a Pair of Losses in Landmark Conference Tournament

(May 8, 2010) – Catholic University Baseball Coach Ross Natoli was hoping that his team’s 18-hit, 21-run uprising in the opening round of the Landmark Conference Tournament was a sign of increased offensive production.

It wasn’t.

The second-seeded Cardinals were eliminated from the tournament Saturday at Gillespie Field in Bethlehem, Pa., following a 3-1 loss to host and top-seeded Moravian College and an 8-0 setback to Juniata College.

The twin defeats close the curtain on the Cards’ third consecutive 20-win season. The reigning two-time Landmark champions finish 23-17.

Moravian and fourth-seeded Juniata will meet for the championship Sunday. Juniata will have to win twice to seize the crown and earn the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

CUA advanced to day two with its 21-11 thrashing of third-seeded Susquehanna University on Friday afternoon. Saturday was a different story.

The Cardinals got a fine pitching performance from Ron Esposito (5-3) against the Greyhounds, but could only put one run across the plate. Esposito gave up eight hits and two runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings and struck out four.

Moravian broke a 1-1 tie with single runs in the seventh and eighth and Brendan Close (5-0) logged eight innings of five-hit, one-run ball. Ryan Longernecker relieved Close in the ninth after the first two Cardinals reached base. A ground out to third put runners on second and third with one out but there they remained. Longernecker fanned the next two batters swinging to earn his fourth save.

CUA’s Tommy Little went 2-for-4 and scored a run. Dave Zubia collected three of the Greyhounds’ 10 hits.

In game two, Juniata scored a pair of runs in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh. Its nine hits were aided by three Cardinal errors. Redbird starter Jack Mahoney (2-5) pitched six innings and allowed six hits and six runs, but only one of the runs was earned.

John Love improved to 3-4 in the Eagles’ first win over CUA this season. Love surrendered seven hits in his complete-game victory, walking two and striking out four. Third baseman Troy Langway (2-for-3) was the only Cardinal to get more than one hit.

Juniata totaled 10 hits and Kyle Saxman and Chase Dykstra had two apiece. Greg Hoffman (1-for-5) hit a solo home run to left in the seventh to make it 7-0. Love set down the side in the eighth, and after L.J. Travaglia hit a one-out double down the right field line, Love sandwiched a walk around a fly out and pop out to seal the shutout.

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