By Brian Hula
The University of Dallas men’s baseball team won three games over the past week, providing a strong finish for the season. The Crusaders won a game against Austin College on Monday by a score of 10-9, and swept a Saturday double-header against Arlington Baptist College 7-6 and 10-6.
The Crusaders began the game on Monday with a strong first inning, scoring a total of five runs in the frame. After two singles, senior infielder Nolan Kipp hit a ground ball to drive in one run, and sophomore infielder JP Fasone followed up with an RBI single at the next at bat. Senior infielder Hunter Berry hit a double to drive three more runs. Although the Crusaders gave up two runs to the Austin College ‘Roos in the first inning and one more in the second inning, the “Navy and White” would score two more runs in the third inning on a wild pitch to stretch the lead to 7-3.
However, the ‘Roos scored five runs in the fourth inning and one in the fifth to claim a 9-7 lead. Unfazed by this sudden setback, the Crusaders reclaimed the lead in the last three innings of the contest. In the top of the seventh inning, senior infielder and pitcher Luciano Villanueva hit a ground ball to score a run, and sophomore infielder Alex Stack hit an RBI single in the next at-bat to tie the game at 9-9. The Crusaders scored the deciding run in the top of the ninth when Villanueva hit a home run, allowing the “Navy and White” to win the game 10-9 and take the series against Austin College, two games to one.
In the first game against Arlington Baptist on Saturday, there was no scoring by either team until the Patriots of Arlington Baptist scored a run in the top of the third. In the bottom of the inning, Stack hit an RBI single to knot the score at 1-1. After the Patriots scored two more runs in the top of the fourth, the Crusaders responded by scoring five runs of their own in the bottom of that inning. After Berry hit an RBI single, a wild pitch allowed sophomore Avery Arnold to reach home plate. Two more RBI singles followed, one by senior outfielder Zack Boylson and another by Fasone. Villanueva hit a ground ball to drive in the last run of the inning. After Arnold hit an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth inning to bring the Crusader’s lead to stretch the Crusaders’ lead to 7-4, the Patriots scored a run in the fifth and sixth innings to draw within one run. However, the UD men prevailed to take the contest by a score of 7-6.
In the second game of Saturday’s double-header, the Crusaders took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning when Berry hit an RBI single, and Boylson hit a ground ball to drive in a second run. However, the Patriots scored a run in the third inning and took a 4-2 lead by scoring two more runs in the top of the fourth inning. However, the Crusaders retook their lead by putting on an impressive offensive performance in the bottom of the fourth, scoring six runs in the frame to reclaim the lead, 8-4. After Boylson and Fasone hit RBI singles, a throwing error allowed another run to reach home plate for the Crusaders. Villanueva and senior infielder and pitcher Trevor Keele each had RBI singles to cap the scoring in that inning. The Crusaders scored two more runs in the sixth inning when Villanueva tripled, allowing Boylson to reach home and scoring because of a throwing error. Even though the Patriots went on to score twice in the top of the seventh inning, the Crusaders ultimately won the game by a score of 10-6.
Keele noted that the team’s positive attitude was a big factor in the Crusaders’ strong finish to the season.
“I feel like in these last two games we played to have fun … we didn’t have anything to lose and we all wanted to go out with a couple of wins,” he said. “After the year that we had, which was riddled with injuries and other unfortunate events, it was really nice to end on a high note.”