Crusaders end regular season on a high note

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Sophomore catcher Paul Scioli, shown above, contributed to the Crusaders’ strong performance against Schreiner. University of Dallas Photo .

After getting swept by Trinity University at home over senior weekend, the University of Dallas baseball team traveled to Schreiner University to play their final series of the regular season, where their fortunes turned for the better.

The first game was a quiet affair, until the Crusaders scored a barrage of four runs in the top of the third inning. Sophomores Jordan Stickler and shortstop Josh Abalos both got hit by pitches to get on base. Classmate Seth Hanson then smashed a double into left center field to plate both runners. 

An error by the Schreiner defense allowed sophomore Mark Peterson to reach base and score Hanson. Peterson finished the frame by coming across home on a wild pitch, giving the Crusaders an early 4-0 edge.

The Mountaineers tried to answer in the next inning, but came up scoreless thanks to senior starting pitcher Ryan Hammonds. 

The Crusaders added four more runs in the eighth, although the previous four had been enough to seal the game. Senior Zach San Roman laced a single into left with one out. Sophomore catcher Paul Scioli was then hit by a pitch to put two runners on base with still only one out. 

After the second out, freshman Jake Schwartz made his collegiate debut as a pinch runner for San Roman. Schwartz scored his first collegiate run when senior JP Fasone smashed a double to left field in order to score two runners. 

“It was one of the highlights of the weekend for me,” Schwartz said. “Since being on the Injured Reserve for the majority of the season, due to my injury and rehab, I knew that there was going to be a very slim chance of me getting cleared to be on the field this year. But, all thanks to God, I got the opportunity to be well enough to get back on the field, and help contribute to the team what I could do, which was run.”

After Stickler walked to get on base and extend his on-base streak to 28 games, Abalos smashed a double of his own to center field to score two more RBI. 

The Crusaders capped the shutout with one more run in the ninth, as freshman third baseman Nathan Patton hit another double for the team. Peterson then singled to score Patton for the final run of the game and win the shutout, 9-0.

Schreiner, however, outdid their offensive performance in game one within the first inning of game two, after a stretch of four straight hits gave them three runs in the frame. The Mountaineers would land another run in the third inning to stretch their lead to a 4-0 edge.

The Crusaders scored four runs in the fifth inning to tie the game. After one out, San Roman walked, and Scioli singled to put runners on first and second. Sophomore Enrique Vigil doubled to score both of them, and after Stickler walked, Abalos tripled to score both Vigil and Stickler.

Schreiner’s Sammy Garcia ripped another RBI hit in the sixth to put them back on top, 5-4.  The Crusaders matched them, however, as Scioli crushed his team-leading fifth home run.

“It felt nice to stay consistent at the plate, and to see the ball so well,” Scioli said. “My mentality [was] that at-bat was a little more aggressive than usual after they had just reached a 5-4 lead, and I had the opportunity to lead off that inning, so I wanted to make a statement that we wanted to gain back that run and then some.”

The Crusaders could not take the lead however, and the Schreiner University Mountaineers scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh, taking the lead 8-5. The Crusaders did try to come back and tie the game in the top of the eighth, but ultimately came up short with only two more runs. Scoreless in the ninth, the Crusaders dropped game two 7-8.

In the rubber game the next day, the Crusaders came up big, managing to score runs in every inning save two. Stickler started the onslaught with a double to left field to maintain his spectacular thirty-game on-base streak. After moving to third thanks to a sacrifice bunt, Stickler scored the first run of the game off a wild pitch.

In the second inning, Peterson hit a single into left field, and Vigil tripled to score him.

Hanson, the team leader in RBIs, singled to score Stickler in the third after Stickler led off the inning with a walk and steal of second base.

After Schreiner got on the board for the first time in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Crusaders scored three runs in the fifth and two in the sixth, which would prove to be enough to win the game. Stickler singled and scored Vigil for the first part of that stretch, but two Mountaineer errors accounted for the other runs. Fasone and Stickler both laced consecutive RBI-singles in the sixth inning.

The Mountaineers unleashed a barrage of their own with four more runs in the bottom of the sixth, reducing the Crusaders lead to 8-5, but UD added one run to their lead in both the seventh and eighth innings to win the game 10-5.

“The UD Baseball team is a bunch of fighters and bulldogs who do not go down without a fight,” Schwartz said. “That’s how we have been this season, through the thick and thin. This will greatly benefit us in the off season and leading up to next fall by keeping us always mentally locked in and focused on the tasks we have to do to get better, and just play our game and to go out and compete.”

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