WSU halts CSJ’s USCAA National Tournament hopes

WSU halts CSJ’s USCAA National Tournament hopes

College of St. Joseph's baseball team has been dropped from the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) World Series after falling to #3 Wright State University - Lake Campus 10-3 on Tuesday, May 15.

The USCAA National Championship is a double-elimination tournament and CSJ previously lost to #10 Selma University 5-2 on Monday, May 14. On Tuesday, the opportunity for a third consecutive CSJ USCAA National Baseball Championship title slipped away.

CSJ started the game in the batter's box, however they did not record a hit in the opening frame. The WSU Lakers scored three runs with the help of five hits in the first inning to give themselves a comfortable lead from the get-go.

The first run scored was due to a throwing error in CSJ's infield off a bunt that resulted in a single. The bunter, Conor Schmitt, was able to reach third base on another CSJ error. Schmitt then scored off a single by Tristan Becker. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, Becker scored off a single by Isaac Fitzgerald. Starting pitcher Zachery Mattos struck out the final two batters of the inning.

Jion Cras walked in the top of the second inning and pinch runner Jeremy Johnson subbed into the game for him. Johnson was left on base as three groundouts concluded the Fighting Saints turn at the plate for the inning. WSU-Lake Campus recorded one single and zero runs in the second frame. Mattos struck out one and two Lakers runners were left on base.

In the third, John Loschiavo - who has had a place atop the batting order through the entire season - recorded the Saints' first hit of the game off a single to right center field. Ground outs and a fly ball resulted in Loschiavo being left on base. The Lakers added two runs and three hits to their game totals in the bottom of the inning. A double by Tyler Venters drove in both WSU runs on the inning.

CSJ gained momentum in the fourth frame of play. Petar Rumora got the bats going with a double to right field. Next, Benny Pena singled and allowed Rumora to advance to third base. A Cras single to right allowed Rumora to reach home plate safely and Pena to reach third. Johnson was substituted into the game to pinch run for Cras at first base. When Ernesto Figueroa hit a high fly ball near third base, Pena was able to tag up and steal home to make the game 5-2.

Luis Ramos subbed into the game to pitch the next two innings. He struck out one batter and forced the other two outs by way of a fly ball and easy grounder. WSU's Becker recorded a single and was left on base.

The top of the fifth inning saw Kyle Gould leadoff with a single to center field. Gould advanced to second on a passed ball and to third on a CSJ groundout. Salvador Cimino was walked, and was able to steal home to bring the Fighting Saints within two runs, 5-3, of the Lakers.

WSU responded in the bottom of the inning with two hits, two runs. Connor Burr hit a double and Venters reached on a fielder's choice. A Dustin Lewis single to center field allowed Burr to score and put the Lakers up 6-3. A fly out by Schmitt resulted in a RBI as Venters scored on the play and put WSU ahead 7-3.

Pena singled to center field to leadoff the sixth inning for the Fighting Saints. The next batter struck out. Pena was then thrown out as part of a crushing double play by the Lakers that ended CSJ's turn at the plate late in the contest.

Kordell Henriquez was subbed in to pitch the majority of the sixth inning for the Saints and William Leino threw the last out of the sixth, which was a groundout. The Lakers proved their deep lineup and smart base running tactics, as they recorded three hits and three runs during the inning that ultimately proved to be enough for victory and further advancement in the World Series. All three runs were scored on throwing decisions by the Saints' defense.

In the seventh, Loschiavo recorded a double with two outs on the scoreboard. Cimino singled to shortstop and Loschiavo reached third safely, but the next CSJ batter grounded out. The final score was 10-3.

The Fighting Saints recorded a collective eight hits. WSU - Lake Campus had 15 on the game. Pena finished with two hits, one run. Loschiavo also led with two hits. Rumora and Gould tallied one hit, one run. Jion Cras recorded one hit, one RBI.

Mattos finished with five strikeouts and gave up nine hits and five runs through three innings on the mound. Ramos struck out one and gave up three hits and two runs through two innings of play. Henriquez gave up three hits, three runs.

The Fighting Saints battled through a challenging year in many aspects. They faced the toughest regular season schedule in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which hosts competitors who tend to be stronger than those in the USCAA, and had to adjust to an unexpected head coaching change late in the season. CSJ was given a #7 ranking for this year's World Series, despite a 15-33 record on the year that threatened to prevent them from being picked for the USCAA National Tournament at all - a turn that would have been crushing to a program that had been crowned USCAA National Champions the past two consecutive years (2017 and 2016). Still, the Fighting Saints continuously persevered.