WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Catholic University baseball team picked up two important conference wins over Moravian on Saturday afternoon at Robert J. Talbot Field. With two victories, the Cardinals (18-10, 8-6 LC) moved into third place in the Landmark after defeating the Greyhounds (14-14, 7-4 LC), who started the day at the top of the standings.
A strong performance from senior ace Jon Mierzwa and a big pinch-hit single from Will Pyne lifted Catholic to a 4-1 victory in game one, and some stellar defense in game two helped the Cardinals hold on for the Saturday sweep. Senior Bailey Lewis continued his hot hitting at the plate and led the team with four hits and 3 RBIs on the day.
Game 1: Catholic 4 | Moravian 1
Catholic came out on top in a tight first contest in which they out-hit Moravian 11-6. Down 1-0 in the third, the Cardinals scored their first run of the afternoon off the bat of Lewis. Leadoff man Connor Sullivan doubled down the left field line to start the bottom half of the inning, and then Lewis singled to right field to tie the game. After Saturday's action, the senior from Matthews, N.C. has a 13-game hitting streak and is fourth in the Landmark with 41 hits.
In the top of the fourth frame, a fantastic relay cut down the leading run at home to preserve the tie. Moravian hit a bomb to dead center over the head of junior Cid Porter. Catching the ball off one bounce, Porter fired the ball in to senior second baseman Ryan Tracy, who gunned down the Greyhound runner at the plate with a tag from senior Sean Dempsey. Mierzwa got the next two outs to keep the score at 1-1.
The impressive play continued in the bottom half of the inning as the Cardinals took their first lead of the game. Sophomore Michael Doody to lead off and junior Connor Cozad got on with a bunt single in the next at-bat. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners over two second and third and a strikeout, Pyne came up to bat as a pinch hitter. The junior delivered a clutch 2-RBI single to left field to put Catholic up 3-1.
The hosts added an insurance run in the fifth with two big hits from Lewis and junior Nolan Lundholm. Lewis went opposite field and hit a double off the right field fence, and then Lundholm followed suit with a double off the fence in left center to score another run.
Mierzwa came up big on the mound once again for the Cardinals to start the conference series with a win. The senior from Laurel, Md. is now 5-0 on the season, tying the lead in the Landmark for wins. He went six innings, giving up five hits and striking out seven batters to allow just one run on 126 pitches. Sophomore Ethan Risse came in for the seventh frame and shut the door to pick up his second save of the season.
Game 2: Catholic 6 | Moravian 5
The Greyhounds started game two with a leadoff homerun in the first at-bat of the contest, but Catholic answered in the early innings to take back the lead and made some outstanding defensive plays to get the win.
Moravian's 2-0 first inning lead did not last long as the Cardinals tied the game in just four batters in the bottom half of the frame. Tracy and Lewis singled to put runners on first and second. Lewis' 2-5 effort at the plate in game two gave him his 16th multi-hit game of the season. Lundholm then doubled down the right field line to score both the seniors and tie the game. Doody singled to bring Lundholm home the next at-bat and Catholic gained a 3-2 advantage.
Familar faces came extended the lead the very next inning to extend the Cardinals' lead. Singles from junior catcher Jeff Guile, Sullivan, and Tracy loaded the bases with one out. Lewis then hit a 2-RBI single to right center. Doody later singled to bring in Tracy and make the score 6-2.
The Greyhounds responded with three runs in the third and fourth inning to cut the lead to 6-5, and then Catholic flashed the leather to stop the scoring for the rest of the game. With Moravian threatening to score for a third straight inning in the fifth, Porter covered a lot of ground to make a running catch with two on for the third out. In the top of the seventh, sophomore Tighe Watson laid out to stop a hard hit ground ball up the middle and turn a fantastic 6-4-3 double play.
Senior reliever Collin Brown came in for the eighth inning with two runners on and just one out. After a fielder's choice putout and walk, Brown came through with a huge swining strikeout with the bases loaded to end the half inning.
Sophomore third baseman Kendric Musser dove to his left to corral a fast grounder, got up, and threw a laser to get the first out of the top of the ninth inning. No runs were scored in the game's last five innings, and the Cardinals held on for the 6-5 victory.
A strong bullpen effort preserved the early lead for the Cardinals in game two. Junior Ross Dean went 2.1 innings in the start and fellow junior Eric Moore got out of a third inning bases loaded jam to give up just one run in his 2.1 innings of work. Junior Jack Ropelewski threw 2.2 scoreless innings to earn his second win of the year. Brown earned his second save of the season with three strikeouts in 1.2 innings thrown.
Catholic wraps up the three game series with Moravian tomorrow at Robert J. Talbot Field. Winners of their last seven games, Cardinals would move into second place in the Landmark with a sweep over the Greyhounds tomorrow. The team will honor its seniors before first pitch set for 12:30 p.m.