Sports Information Director
(South Bend, Ind.) Sophomore pitcher Andrew Salazar (Tucson, Ariz.) put together an impressive outing on the mound on Friday afternoon, but the Holy Cross Saints fell to the 19th ranked Fighting Saints of the University of St. Francis (Ill.) in extra innings in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) action. After tying it up at 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, St. Francis turned together a four-run top of the tenth to put the game out of reach. The Saints fall to 6-12 overall and 1-3 in CCAC play.
"This one was a real tough one for us," said coach Blondell. "I thought we did an excellent job playing with these guys but we just couldn't finish it off unfortunately."
After giving up a leadoff walk and seeing the runner advance to second base on a passed ball, sophomore starting pitcher Andrew Salazar was able to quickly settle down and shut down the next thirteen batters he faced before giving up the game's first hit in the top of the fifth inning.
The Saints picked up their first hit of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning after a one out single by Paul Kappaz (Grosse Pointe, Mich.). Kappaz was able to reach as far as third base; however, the Saints were unable to capitalize on their opportunity.
With two out in the top of the sixth, St. Francis was threatening with a runner on second base. Centerfielder Dan Wawrzusin (Potomac, MD) made the first big defensive play of the day after tracking down a deep shot to left center field which left the runner stranded on the base path.
Salazar continued to pitch strong for the Saints and was able to complete two outs in the eighth inning and giving up the game's first run. This was the longest outing for a Holy Cross starter this season. Freshman Jared Jayne (Lisle, Ill.) replaced Salazar to get the final out of the inning.
Paul Kappaz opened up the eighth inning with a single to right center to record his second hit of the afternoon. After being sacrificed to second base by Wawrzusin and advancing to third on a dropped fly ball in right field, Blake Correll (Oak Creek, Wisc.) laid down a squeeze bunt which Kappaz was able to score on to knot the game at 1-1.
The Saints had one final chance in the bottom of the ninth inning to pull off the upset win after leadoff man Max Linnville (Boone, NC) led the inning off with a single to third base. Trevor Hurley (Sioux Falls, SD) then laid down a well executed sacrifice bunt to move Linnville up a bag with just one out. St. Francis pitcher Jacob Butler was aggressive on the mound and was able to pickoff pinch runner Pat Sweeney (Sarasota, Fla.) to end the Saints threat in the ninth inning. Ben Bournay (Dowagiac, Mich.) grounded out to the third basemen for the final out and we headed to extra innings for the first time this season.
After striking out the leadoff man, freshman relief pitcher Jared Jayne walked the next two batters before an RBI double by Joe Ruge put St. Francis back in front. Jesse Gregurich followed Ruge's double with a two-run home run to right field to really put the pressure on the Saints.
The four-run tenth inning by the Fighting Saints proved to be too much for Holy Cross as they dropped the contest 5-1.
Jacob Butler pitched an impressive game for St. Francis throwing all ten innings and allowing just four hits and striking out six patters.
Saints start Andrew Salazar completed 7 2/3 innings while giving up six hits, one earned run and striking out two.
Paul Kappaz recorded two of the Saints four hits after going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Ben Bournay saw his first 0-fer since the first game of the season, ending his school best sixteen game hit streak.
"Just a real tough loss for the guys," continued Blondell. "I thought Andrew did a heck of a job on the mound in a big spot. We just weren't able to capitalize on the opportunities we had. We know we can play with a team of this caliber, so we just need to be patient and keep working."
The Saints will close out their three game series with the University of St. Francis tomorrow afternoon with a doubleheader in Chicago, Illinois. The next home contests will take place on Sunday, March 24th against Ancilla College in doubleheader action. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. EST.