Sports Information Director
JOLIET, Ill. – The Holy Cross baseball team responded from a tough start to the weekend with an impressive 8-2 victory over the University of St. Francis (Ill.) on Sunday afternoon. Making just his second start of the year, Darwing Ereu (JR/Mishawaka, Ind.) pitched 8.2 solid innings as the Saints jumped on the ace of St. Francis early to win their 20th game of the season and snap their previous five-game losing streak.
"Our guys came out focused and determined to get back on track," head coach Brian Blondell said. "It was a difficult start to the weekend as we know we could have played better. To come out and get a road win against a team at St. Francis' caliber is a testament to the focus and determination of this group."
The Saints were quick to jump on the board in the series finale on Sunday afternoon as Ben Bournay (SR/Dowagiac, Mich.) brought home Mike Pizzuto (JR/Sarasota, Fla.) with a sacrifice fly to put the Saints up 1-0 in the top of the second inning.
Following the early run, both starting pitchers settled in nicely, keeping the score at 1-0 through five innings. It was in the top of the sixth where the Saints really broke through offensively. Four consecutive hits to open the innings, including a double from Darwing Ereu that brought in two runs, jumpstarted the Saints momentum at the plate. Mike Pizzuto would put the Saints on top 4-0 after a fielder's choice before Blake Correll (SO/Oak Creek, Wis.) extended the Saints lead to 5-0 following a sacrifice fly. The Saints plated four runs on four hits in the sixth to really put the pressure on St. Francis.
Ereu continued to be solid on the mound in the late stages, allowing just two base runners in the sixth and seventh innings.
The Saints would add an unearned run in the top of the seventh on the RBI single from Paul Kappaz (JR/Grosse Pointe, Mich.) to increase their lead to 6-0. Their success would continue in the eighth inning after an RBI pinch hit single from Bryan Reed (FR/Charlotte, Mich.) and a fielder's choice from Stephen Clancy (JR/Yorkville, Ill.) pushed their lead to 8-0.
St. Francis would get a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth, but it was Ereu who stayed composed on the mound to get out of the inning unscathed and send the Saints to the ninth inning with an 8-0 advantage.
Ereu would complete a season-high 8.2 innings of work on the mound in just his second career start, allowing just six hits, two runs in the ninth and striking out four. Blake Correll would come in for the last out of the game, getting a fly out to left field, as the Saints would hold on to end the St. Francis rally and complete the 8-2 victory.
With the impressive pitching performance, Ereu picked up his first career win.
The bats were very potent for the Saints on Sunday, finishing with 12 hits. Paul Kappaz and Darwing Ereu each finished with three hits to lead the way. Kappaz drove in one run while Ereu plated two with his sixth double of the year.
With the win, the 2014 Saints become the first team in Holy Cross baseball history to win 20 games in a season. Their 14 conference wins also ensure that no matter what happens in their season finale, they will finish the 2014 season with an above .500 record in CCAC play. The win against St. Francis all ensures that they will be one of the six teams in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference to take part in postseason play; the first team to do so in program history.
"This was a statement game for our guys," Blondell continued. "Darwing came up huge for us in a spot start and pitched a phenomenal game. We jumped out to an early lead and never let up. We now need to focus on Robert Morris and end the regular season on a positive note."
The Saints (20-30, 14-11 CCAC) will wrap up the 2014 regular season with a road doubleheader against Robert Morris University on Tuesday, April 29 beginning at 6:00 pm EST.