Baseball drops conference opener

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Photo courtesy of UDallas Athletics

On Friday, March 16 the University of Dallas baseball team lost to Centenary College of Louisiana 7-5 to open the 2018 conference campaign.

“I think we played one of our best baseball games out here today” said sophomore third baseman Nathan Patton.  “Centenary coming in here is the reigning conference champs, and we just coming out here to compete, and today we just ending up getting the short end of the stick.”

“First conference game was a blast,” said Head Coach Joe Myers.  “It was a good ball game where both teams threw punches and you had to respond quickly.”

The Crusaders started the game off in trouble with a leadoff walk to shortstop Peyton Cormane and a two-run homer to catcher Chris Zapata.  The Gents would score one more in the first with an RBI groundout by Ian Graham.  Centenary would extend their lead to 4-0 in the second, as right fielder Cody Crowder singled up the middle to drive in second baseman Nicholas Delaneuville, one of four hits Crowder would have in the game

The Crusaders would get on the board in the fourth inning.  After the first 9 batters were retired, junior center fielder Jordan Stickler reached first on a throwing error from Cormane.  Two batters later, Patton belted a two-run shot over the left field wall to narrow the margin to 4-2, his first career home run.

“I know that Kirk was a good pitcher,” said Patton.  “I knew he was going to attack the zone early, because he doesn’t want to get behind any hitters.  Second at-bat hit a home run off of him. It was a good pitch, but I had a good swing on it.”

Centenary would extend their lead back up to three in the fifth, as Graham would single in Crowder with one out.

Patton would bring the deficit back down to two with his second home run of the game, this time a solo home run.

“Next at-bat I had a feeling they weren’t going to throw me anything without a lot of movement,” said Patton.  “Second home run was three straight curveballs, fortunately, the third one was able to go over the fence.”

“Patton is at a level right now where both offensively and defensively he’s the best player on the field,” said Myers.  “It’s been that way most of the season so far.”

The Crusaders’ offense continued the comeback in the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff single up the middle by Stickler.  Junior shortstop Josh Abalos then attempted a sacrifice bunt, but was unsuccessful as Stickler was thrown out at second on the bunt.  Patton then hit a single to left field, advancing Abalos to third.  Junior catcher Jessup Scott then singlede to right, driving in Abalos and advancing Patton to third.  Junior first baseman Mark Peterson doubled to deep left-center field, scoring Patton to tie the game at five and advancing Scott to third.

The game would remain tied until the top of the ninth.  Centenary loaded the bases with one out, for pinch hitter freshman Tyler Erickson. Erickson hit a fly to freshman right fielder Maximilian Costello, who had entered the game the inning before as a pinch hitter for Junior Enrique Vigil.  Costello’s throw to home beat runner Ian Graham to the plate, but Graham slid under the tag and scored to break the 5-5 tie.  Delaneuville followed with an RBI single to right, but Costello gunned down Cameron Guin to end the inning as he tried to advance to third.

The Crusaders had a valiant effort in the bottom of the ninth as Patton and Scott lead off the inning with back-to-back singles.  Peterson then smacked a hard ground ball down the first base line, but a remarkable diving stop by first baseman Preston Ludwick stop a potential game-tying extra base hit.

“I thought it was through,” said Patton. “I thought I was going to be scoring easy, but [Ludwick] made a hell of a play, got to give props to him. I think if that ball got through it would have been a whole different ball game.”

Patton and Scott advanced to second and third on the ground out, and they would be stranded there as sophomore designated hitter Zach Taylor flew out to left, and second baseman Seth Hanson grounded out to shortstop, ending the game 7-5 Centenary.

When asked about what adjustment needed to be made for the rest of the series, Patton said, “I think we just need to come out with the same energy, if not better energy [tomorrow] because it’s a long day, doubleheader. Offense just needs to do the same thing, we had 14 hits, and [we] put up 5 runs against a really good pitcher.”

“We just have to play the same way tomorrow and continue to put pressure on Centenary,” said Myers. “We need to score first which is probably the biggest thing that we didn’t do yesterday.”

The Crusaders fell to 7-10 with the loss and dropped to 5-2 at home this season.  UD will play games two and three of the series against Centenary on Saturday, March 17 at 12 and 3 p.m.

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