It was a nice spring day for baseball as the University of Dallas Crusaders took on Rhodes College, Piedmont College and LaGrange College at the Millsaps Tournament in Mississippi. The first game was a pitcher’s duel between the Crusaders and the Rhodes College Lynx.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t the Crusaders’ day.
They started off by putting the first two of three batters on base. Sophomore centerfielder Jordan Stickler laced a single into center field and shortly afterwards, he would go on to steal second base. After the Lynx’ starting pitcher retaliated with a strikeout, sophomore designated hitter Seth Hanson would be put on base to extend his base-reaching streak to six games.
It proved futile though, as the Crusaders were unable to do any damage in the frame. The Crusaders had another chance in the third frame, but left another pair of runners on base. Senior shortstop JP Fasone was put on base and stole second with one out. After that, a wild pitch allowed him to advance to third base. However, a strikeout, a walk, and then a fly out to left field happened to end the Crusader’s hopes.
The Lynx were the ones to score first as shortstop Bill Munson was hit by a pitch. Munson would then steal second in similar fashion to Stickler. However, this time left fielder Bennett Notestine smashed a one out single into center field to drive Munson in for the first run of the game. Later on in the sixth frame, designated hitter Levi Greenberg for the Lynx would drive in Notestine to make it to 2-0. The Crusaders were unable to recover from this, leaving nine runners at sea by the end of the game.
“It goes back to the week prepping for the weekend,” said freshman Zachary Taylor, who pinch-hit for first baseman Brice Cell at one point. “We didn’t practice probably to the best of our ability due to the fact that we had the complete sweep at QuickTrip Park, and we thought going into the weekend that we would do the same. This is just another learning curve for the underclassmen on the team and we plan to make a complete turnaround when we play next week”
The second game was even more of a nightmare for the Crusaders.
They faced the Piedmont College Lions in the second game on Saturday and didn’t start off well, asthey gave up two runs in the first, third, and fourth frames, giving the Lions an early 6-0 edge. It got even worse though, when the floodgates opened and the Piedmont College Lions scored seven runs in the fifth frame.
The Crusaders would respond with three runs in the sixth frame. Hanson reached base on an error by the third basemen that let Stickler score from second base. A couple batters afterwards, sophomore designated hitter Mark Peterson would double with two outs to score both Fasone and Hanson.
A recurring nightmare during the game for the Crusaders came from the likes of the Lions’ first baseman Andrew Burden, who saw the plate five times that day. He went 4-5, smashing two doubles and a triple. Burden scored a game high four runners as well.
The third and final game of the Millsaps Tournament on Sunday, Feb. 19, was hard-fought and winnable, but ultimately another loss to the LaGrange College Panthers. Both teams would score in the second frame as Lions left fielder Billy Peatross laced a single into center field, scoring teammate first baseman Cain Sauls, who started the inning with a single down the left field line. Peatross then advanced to second from a sacrifice bunt. Second baseman Joe Pradat would tack on the lead by doubling down the opposite line with two outs to drive in right fielder Blane Swift, who had grounded into a fielder’s choice the previous play.
The Crusaders rallied back, scoring two runs in the eighth to cut the deficit in half. However, this proved insufficient, as the Panthers scored five runs in the last three frames to put the game away, 8-3.
“We struggled to manufacture runs and take advantage of the situations presented to us,” said freshman Nicholas Hovde, who pinch-hit for left fielder Colby Davenport in Saturday’s affair. “It starts with a confident mentality on the field, on the mound, and at the plate. We have a week to improve before our next game, and I know we will be geared to go then.”
The Crusaders are off for a week before they travel to East Texas Baptist University for a doubleheader, which starts on Tuesday, Feb. 28. First pitch is at 1 p.m.