Sports Information Director
ELGIN, Ill. – The Holy Cross baseball team continued their postseason success on Tuesday evening against the Trolls of Trinity Christian College. A fast start on offense, combined with a strong start from junior pitcher Jacob Lanning (JR/Roscoe, Ill.) propelled the Saints to an 8-0 advantage before closing out the game with a 10-4 victory and a spot in the championship game of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC).
"The guys were locked in right from the first pitch," head coach Brian Blondell said. "We were confident both offensively and defensively and did a great job of coming up with key hits. It was a collective effort from everyone on our team and I couldn't be more proud of our team for their determination in this game."
The Saints got to work early in their elimination game on Tuesday evening, plating the first run of the game after Jacob Lanning laced a two-out double down the right field line and open up an early 1-0 advantage over the Trolls. Their early success would continue in the top of the third inning as the offense put together a five-hit inning leading to another three runs which extended their lead to 4-0. Lanning produced his second double of the game plating two of the runs while Mike Pizzuto (JR/Sarasota, Fla.) brought in the third run for the Saints.
With the early four-run advantage, Jacob Lanning began to settle in on the mound. After surrendering just one base runner in the bottom of the third, the Saints offense continued their success in the top of the fourth with four more runs on just one hit and the assistance of three errors by the Trolls. Paul Kappaz (JR/Grosse Pointe, Mich.) drove in the first run of the inning with a fielder's choice, Darwing Ereu (JR/Mishawaka, Ind.) drove in a pair with a single up the middle and Jordan Hinton (SO/Granger, Ind.) drove in the final run of the inning the groundout to third. With their second consecutive big inning, the Saints extended their lead to 8-0 through the fourth inning.
The Trolls got on the scoreboard for the first time in the bottom of fifth with a pair of two-out hits. After a leadoff double was retired at third base on a fielder's choice, Trinity Christian added a pair of two-out hits, including a single down the right field line, which brought the score within 8-1. The Saints would then be next to respond in the top of the seventh after an RBI single to left field with two outs that brought in their ninth run of the evening. A home run from Trinity Christian in the bottom half of the frame would bring the Trolls within 9-2.
Trinity Christian would score single runs in three consecutive innings in the seventh through ninth, however, a single run by the Saints would bring them to 10 and prove to be too much for the Trolls to come back from. Jacob Lanning (5-6) would pick up his fifth win of the season as the Saints knocked off Trinity Christian 10-4 and eliminating them from the postseason tournament.
Despite giving up 10 hits, Lanning was strong on the mound for the Saints. After tossing eight innings of action, Lanning allowed just three runs, one walk and struck out six. Blake Correll (SO/Oak Creek, Wis.) would give up an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth, but the strong offensive day for the Saints secured them some cushion in the late stages.
The Saints finished the game amassing 14 hits and playing extremely clean defense, allowing just one error in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Amongst the 14 hits, Chris Woodruff (JR/Mishawaka, Ind.) led the way for the Saints with a 4-for-5 performance to pair with his team-best 27th stolen base. Jacob Lanning, Paul Kappaz and Darwing Ereu also registered multi-hit games for the Saints. Lanning drove in three runs with two doubles, Kappaz went 2-for-5 with three runs scored and Ereu went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs.
"With our backs against the wall, the guys continue to get better," continued Blondell. "This group has come a long way from the early season struggles and now have an opportunity to play for a conference championship. It's time to demonstrate our commitment level and focus for one more day as we have a tough challenge with the tournament-hosts from Judson."
Following a 10 inning loss to Judson, the elimination of St. Francis (Ill.) leaves just Judson and the Saints as the final two vying for the tournament championship. With two potential games on the horizon, the Saints (23-32) will begin their quest for that opportunity with game one beginning at 3:00 pm EST. Live stats will be available once again, courtesy of Judson University athletics. If the Saints win in game one, game two will begin at approximately 7:00 pm EST.