By Katie Ward and Daniela Sol
The CUA Cardinals baseball team is off to a strong start in its 2018 campaign as it defeated the Cabrini Cavaliers and the Seahawks of St. Mary’s College of Maryland in the opening three games of the season. On a surprisingly sunny and relatively hot week-compared to the usual February weather, the baseball team has stepped into the season with the right foot.
The Cardinals’ season opener was pushed back to Sunday, February 19 due to inclement weather the previous day and was played at the Washington Nationals’ Youth Baseball Academy in southeast DC. The game was the first of a double-header played against Cabrini, and it began an exhilarating couple of contests to begin the year. Catholic got an early run in the second inning when junior Ryan Tracy hit a double that brought right fielder Bailey Lewis home from third. The Cards fell behind at the top of the 4th inning when Cabrini scored two runs, and the score stayed 2-1 for the rest of the game until the bottom of the sixth when Lewis hit a home-run that which tied the game at 2-2. Senior first baseman Brennan Cotter hit a single in the seventh inning that brought classmate Danny O’Hagan home from second and ended the game in a 3-2 walk-off, scoring the first win for the Cardinals.
The success in the second half of the double-header was due in part to the pitching of junior Collin Brown, who closed out the game as he came in relief for classmate Jon Mierzwa in the 5th inning. Brown struck out six of the eleven batters he faced and allowed no walks on the day, setting him off to quite a start for his first game and earned his first win on the season. His dominance on the mound earned the reliever Landmark Conference Athlete of the Week honors. Catholic pitchers as a unit struck out 22 batters total in the two games.
In the second game of the day’s doubleheader, Catholic ended the fourth inning down by 3, 4-1. Freshman Michael Doody hit a double with the bases loaded to get two RBIs for the Cards in the fifth inning. Sophomore Sid Porter ran home from second after senior Jack Hennessy hit a sacrifice fly, and rookie pinch-runner Christian Jones scored after advancing to third on a wild pitch. Catholic held Cabrini at 0 runs during the next two innings; Porter doubled to right field on a double then advanced to third, and ran home after Hennessy hit a walk-off single, ending the game at 6-5 for the Cards’ second win of the day.
Hennessy went 4-6 on the weekend, including a 2 RBI 3-3 game in the second leg of the double header. His efforts earned the senior Landmark Conference Athlete of the Week, as well as being named to the D3baseball.com Team of the Week.
“It feels relieving to get off to a good start,” said Hennessey when asked about his performance. “Hitters typically struggle the first few weeks of the season since we are adjusting to seeing live pitching again.”
In their Wednesday game against St. Mary’s, with two outs and only one runner on a base, it looked like the Cards were going to have a scoreless first inning. Lewis hit a double to bring Hennessy home from second, then Sullivan drove to left field and brought two runners home to end the inning 3-0. Catholic got two more runs in the seventh inning, as Sullivan and Doody came across the plate. Catholic pitchers had another great game as they struck out 12 batters. Senior David Gately struck out 7 of these 12 batters, giving him his first win of the year.
The hot start to the season has the Birds feeling optimistic and looking forward to what the season has in store for them.
“The team has had a positive outlook on the season since day one of the fall,” Hennessy said. “I think the 3-0 start is just the tip of the iceberg in the sense that we have yet to play up to our potential. I think that it is a promising sign that we were able to open up our season with two walk-off wins because it shows that despite the fact we haven’t played up to our potential yet, we are a resilient team who will find ways to win and our guys are excited to see what we can do with the rest of our season. Our expectations for ourselves are very high.”
The Cardinals look to keep this momentum rolling as their season continues, and look to meet their lofty expectations as they open up a 3-game home series this weekend against Manhattanville. If not affected by potential weather, the games will take place at Robert J. Talbot Field in the Catholic University Athletic Complex this coming weekend, and will serve as the team’s official home opener.