Sports Information Director
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Holy Cross Saints baseball team returned to Four Winds Field on Saturday afternoon for their final two home games of the season as they wrapped up their three-game series with the Tigers of Olivet Nazarene University. With this being their final series at Four Winds Field in 2014, the six-member senior class was recognized for their accomplishments as members of the Holy Cross baseball program over their careers. A fast start in game one gave the Saints an early 2-0 lead before they added one final in the sixth on their way to a 3-0 victory over the Tigers. In game two, however, Olivet put together four consecutive two-out hits in the seventh inning to take a late 2-0 lead. The Tigers would add one final run in the ninth as they shutout the Saints for the 3-0 win. With the game one win, the Saints took the three-game series with the Tigers 2-1 and sent the 2014 senior class out with one final series win at Four Winds Field.
"We got after it again early in game one and Jordan Gard (SO/Mishawaka, Ind.) did another nice job of controlling the game on the mound," head coach Brian Blondell said. "We struggled to execute in game two facing a tough pitcher, but were still able to take the series and keep things going well in the late stages of the regular season."
Jordan Gard faced some difficulties in the top of the first during game one as Olivet had the bases loaded with one out before getting a ground ball to force the second out at the plate. Gard then proceeded to strikeout the final out of the inning, leaving three runners on base for the Tigers.
With the momentum on their side, Chris Woodruff (JR/Mishawaka, Ind.) led the game off for the Saints with a single down the left field line and eventually scoring following a two-out RBI single from Jacob Lanning (JR/Roscoe, Ill.). Gard then struck out the side in the top of the second before Mike Pizzuto (JR/Sarasota, Fla.) drove in the second run for the Saints as they extended their lead to 2-0 through the first two innings.
After jumping out to the early 2-0 lead, Gard continued be productive on the mound. With a pair of runners on in the fifth and just one out, a ground ball turned double play got the Saints out of a jam and maintained their 2-0 advantage.
The Saints added one final run in the bottom of the sixth as Darwing Ereu (JR/Mishawaka, Ind.) laced a single down the left field line scoring Pat Sweeney (SR/Sarasota, Fla.) and increasing the Saints lead to 3-0.
Jordan Gard was given a curtain call from head coach Brian Blondell in the top of the seventh as Jacob Lanning came in to pitch the final three innings. For the day, Gard (4-2) completed six shutout innings while allowing six hits and striking out a season-high six batters.
Lanning shutdown the Tigers in the seventh, surrendering just one hit, as he picked up his third save of the season and secured the 3-0 Saints win as well as the series.
The Saint finished with six hits in the game from six different batters. Mike Pizzuto, Jacob Lanning and Darwing Ereu each drove in an RBI. Stephen Clancy (JR/Yorkville, Ill.) swiped two bags in the game to up his season total to 15.
Following the conclusion of game one, the six-member senior class were honored in front of their peers, family and teammates.
As game two began, the Saints had their first threat in the bottom of the first after Paul Kappaz (JR/Grosse Pointe, Mich.) laced a triple off the left field wall with two outs. Unfortunately, they were unable to bring the run home and stranded their first opportunity at third base.
The starting pitching from both teams in game two proved to be tough for hitters on each side as the game was held scoreless through the first six innings. It was in the top of the seventh where the Tigers strung together four two-out hits that plated the first two runs of the game.
The Saints struggled to find base runners as the game progressed into the later stages while Olivet added one final run in the top of the ninth to extend their lead to 3-0. The Saints managed to get two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth with two outs but their comeback would stall after a late appeal by the field umpire called the final batter out on a strikeout leading to a 3-0 win by Olivet.
Nick Munger (FR/Perrysburg, Ohio) (2-4) suffered the decision in the game despite a strong showing. Munger pitched 6.2 innings while allowing four hits and two runs.
Once again, the Saints had six hits in the game from six different hitters. Paul Kappaz had the lone extra base hit in the first inning with a triple.
Dave Cericola pitched a gem for the Tigers, tossing all nine innings while allowing six hits, no runs and striking out 11.
Despite the loss in the final game, the Saints continued their strong play with a 2-1 series win over the Tigers and sent their seniors out with one final series win at home. With the game one win, the Saints set a new program-best win total with 19.
"I'm really grateful for our six seniors and the growth, commitment and leadership they've demonstrated for our team," continued Blondell. "I'm thrilled we got to send them out with a series win against a tough opponent at home."
On behalf of Holy Cross athletics, congratulations to Pat Sweeney, Matt Rudorfer (SR/Farmington, Minn.), Jackson Hallahan (SR/Lester Prairie, Minn.), Austin Kiser-Petrie (SR/Lucerne, Ind.), Jake Wood (SR/South Haven, Mich.) and Ben Bournay (SR/Dowagiac, Mich.) on outstanding careers with the Saints!
The Saints (19-26, 13-7 CCAC) will hit the road on Wednesday, April 23 with a doubleheader against Roosevelt University. The first pitch is scheduled for 2:00 pm EST.