CUA takes first two in dramatic fashion, then completes sweep

WASHINGTON – Following a pair of exhilarating, down-to-the-wire victories and a third win to complete a sweep of Susquehanna, the CUA baseball team moved into a tie for first place in the Landmark Conference on Sunday afternoon.  CUA downed the Crusaders 12-11 in the opener, 5-4 in walk-off fashion in the second game and 11-5 in the nightcap to improve to 11-1 in conference action.

Sunday was also CUA's Friends of Jacklyn Day and the Cardinals welcomed their newest fan to Talbot Field to take in all the action.  Friends of Jacklyn is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families.  On Sunday there was a special young man in attendance and he got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to game two and helped to cheer CUA on to victory in all three contests.

Brendan Breslin, Dan Sullivan and Mark Kalokitis all had big offensive days for CUA with Breslin hitting .667, Sullivan batting .583 and Kalokitis delivering the eventual game-winning inside-the-park homerun to win game number one.

The day began in the bottom of the second inning in game with Susquehanna leading 7-4 after the teams started the contest on Saturday but rain forced the postponement.

The Crusaders increased their lead to 8-4 with a single run in the fourth but CUA came back with two runs in the bottom half to pull within 8-6.  Sullivan brought home Dave Grear and Breslin with a two-run single and the Cardinals were within two.

CUA then tied the game at eight with two runs in the fifth and the Cardinals took their first lead of the game in the next inning with three more runs to make it 11-8. 

The Crusaders got two of the runs back in their half of the sixth and then tied it in the seventh with a single run when Geoff Hunter's fielder's choice brought in Ethan Rieker.

In the bottom of the eighth CUA went in front in dramatic fashion.  Kalokitis stepped to the plate with one out and he crushed a pitch into right field.  Susquehanna's right fielder had trouble fielding the ball, and ran into the wall at near full-speed, knocking himself to the ground while the ball lay several feet from him. 

While all this was going on Kalokitis high-tailed it around the bases and got the green light from Head Coach Ross Natoli to head home, which he did, sliding in safely for an inside-the-park homerun and a 12-11 Cardinals lead.

Mark Hanna then came on in the top of the ninth for the save and retired the first two batters easily.  Dan Wing then singled to center, but was lifted for a pinch runner.  Hanna picked the runner off though, ending the game and lifting CUA to an exhilarating victory.

Rob Renzi earned the win for CUA after he went one inning and did not allow any hits or runs.  Hanna then picked up the save for the Cardinals.

Nick Torkildsen suffered the loss after going 3.1 innings and allowing one run on three hits.

CUA was cruising along in game two, leading 4-0 after four innings, but Susquehanna scored once in the fifth and twice in the sixth to pull within 4-3.

The Crusaders then took their first lead of the game in the seventh with two runs, including a Ben Anderson single that scored Erik Tuomisto to put the visitors in front 5-4.

Unfazed, CUA began its rally with a LJ Travaglia single to start the seventh and McCloud bunted him into scoring position to bring up Grear.  The Cardinals first baseman smashed a double to right field to plate Travaglia and tie things at five.

AJ Ventura then pinch ran for Grear and Susquehanna intentionally walked Breslin to put runners on first and second with only one out.  Sullivan was next and he looped a single to center, which brought home a sprinting Ventura, who slid across home plate and jumped up in celebration as CUA had captured the game two win.

Ron Esposito had a solid day on the mound for the Cardinals, going 6.2 innings with two strikeouts before giving way to Jack Mahoney who got the final out of the seventh inning.  Andy Hergan suffered the Crusaders loss after he gave up two runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning.

In the day's final game Susquehanna went in front 2-0 with a pair of runs in the top of the third, but the Cardinals came back with three runs in the bottom half to go in front by a run.

A Rieker home run to center in the fourth knotted the score at three, but Sullivan and Matt Grieb had RBI singles in the bottom half of the inning to put CUA back in front, 5-4.

McCloud then went to work in the fifth, first smashing a solo home run to center, and then in the sixth the Cardinals catcher drilled a grand slam to left that cleared the wall by plenty and put CUA up 11-4, all but sealing this one.

Andrew Caroll went the first 5.2 innings for the Cardinals and earned the victory after striking out four and allowing only three runs.  Adam Schroth and Mahoney closed things down in relief for CUA.

Brian Wendig took the loss after he surrendered six runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings.

CUA hits the road for five straight this week beginning on Tuesday when the Cardinals travel to face Mary Washington.  First pitch is slated for 4 p.m.

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