Mark DeVita homered and drove in three runs and Matt Oruch added two hits and three RBIs to back a strong pitching performance by Santiago Mendez as the Gannon University baseball team thumped Lake Erie College, 11-7, Tuesday at McConnell Family Stadium.
The victory boosted the Knights’ record to 12-5 heading into their PSAC-opening doubleheader against Indiana University of Pennsylvania Thursday at McConnell Family Stadium. Game time for the opener is 1 p.m.
Jared Wiesen contributed two hits, scored three times and drove in a run in Tuesday’s win. Kyle Cox had two hits, scored twice and drove in a pair. Mendez went five innings and gave up five hits and a run.
Tuesday’s win came on the heels of a doubleheader split last weekend with the University of Findlay in Toledo, Ohio.
Both games went to extra innings, as the Knights took the first game, 4-2, in eight innings before losing, 3-2, in the eight-inning nightcap.
Redshirt freshman Nate Cardy’s two-run single in the eighth inning proved to be the game-winner in the opener while Findlay rallied for two runs in the seventh to tie game two, and then plated the game-winning run in the eighth.
Redshirt junior Aaron Jackson started on the mound for the Knights in game one.
Jackson only allowed one run on four hits, struck out three, and walked two in six innings.
In the top of the fourth, the Knights were able to get on the scoreboard first.
Cardy drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and later scored on Cox’s double to right field.
Gannon extended the lead by a run in the fifth when DeVita singled home Nick Restuccia. DeVita, Restuccia and Cox each had two hits for the Knights.
Findlay fought back, however, and forced Gannon into extra innings with single runs in the fifth and seventh.
In the final inning of regulation, two walks and a wild pitch placed runners on second and third with two outs.
Junior Nico DiPaolo looked as if he had ended the game with a strikeout, but a wild pitch on a swinging strike brought the tying run home for Findlay.
“Findlay is a scrappy team,” Cardy said. “They never quit — every inning is a battle with them.”
DiPaolo mentioned that because the game was played on an all-turf field, home plate was slightly raised off the ground, which caused his curve ball to hit the back edge of the plate and scoot past the catcher, giving Findlay the opportunity to tie.
Going into extra innings, DiPaolo gave credit to his teammates for having his back and believing in him.
With two outs in the first extra inning, and two men on, Cardy delivered a two-run single that proved to be the difference.
DiPaolo made up for his wild pitch in the seventh by putting Findlay away in order during the bottom of the eighth.
“We didn’t score a lot of runs, but we scored when we had the opportunities to,” Cardy said.
Game two was another close contest, but Findlay scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to tie the score and then won it in the eighth on Christion Smith’s single to split the series.
The Knights got on the scoreboard first once again in the fourth, after a double steal put two runners in scoring position.
Charles Benack’s single to left brought both runners home to give Gannon a 2-0 lead.
Once again however, Findlay rallied back in the final inning with a bases-loaded walk and an RBI ground-out to tie the score before Smith won it in the eighth.
Sophomore David Cricks went six innings on the mound, allowing two runs on three hits. He also struck out five and walked two.
The PSAC is going to be very competitive this year, and these hard-fought games are good practice for the upcoming conference play, according to Cardy and DiPaolo.
“With any loss you’re going to learn from your mistakes,” DiPaolo said. “They had a really good pitcher and that’s what we’re going to see in the PSAC.”
Up next the Knights will host Indiana, Pa. Thursday in a doubleheader at 1 and 3 p.m. then will travel to Indiana Saturday for another doubleheader at the same times.
At 12-5 overall, the Knights are off to their best 17-game start since at least 1999.