The Gannon University baseball team will have little time to put the weekend’s four-game series against the Indiana University of Pennsylvania behind it as the Knights were scheduled to return to action at 1 p.m. Wednesday against visiting Notre Dame College at McConnell Family Stadium.
Gannon lost both games of a Sunday doubleheader at home, 7-3 and 11-5, to IUP but managed to salvage of a split in a second doubleheader against the Crimson Hawks Monday in Indiana, losing 10-4 and winning 10-1 in the nightcap.
In game one of Sunday’s pair, the Knights lost their grip on the Crimson Hawks after a game-tying two-run home run in the top of the seventh propelled IUP to a nine-inning victory at McConnell Family Stadium.
Gannon was the first team to plate a run, pushing across three runs in the second inning. Junior Gregory Nicolia started the scoring with a two-out RBI double to center then senior Andrew Wagner followed with another double to cap the inning.
Gannon couldn’t add on any insurance runs and Indiana (Pa.) began to chip away at the Knights’ lead, scoring a run in the top of the fifth inning.
Gannon held onto the lead until the seventh inning when Matt Eperesi launched a two-run home run over the left field fence with one out.
The Knights did threaten in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings, putting runners in scoring position in each of their at-bats, but were unable to score.
IUP held on just long enough to be able to score the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk in the top of the ninth before back-to-back singles plated three more insurance runs.
Gannon had a chance to answer, but could only manage a walk during its last at-bats.
Santiago Mendez took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before receiving a no-decision. He allowed two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking four.
Junior Joey Colosi picked up the loss, allowing four unearned runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings pitched before Nick Fuchs came in and got the only batter he faced to ground out.
Wagner led Gannon’s six-hit attack with a pair of hits and an RBI and Nicolia drove in two runs.
In game two, redshirt senior Aaron Jackson got the start on the mound and suffered his first loss of the season despite pitching a full five innings. Jackson became the fifth Golden Knight since 2000 to throw 200-plus innings.
Indiana got hot early, scoring four runs in its first two at-bats.
Gannon fought back with a run of its own in the bottom of the second inning and added three more in the third. Junior Kyle Cox scored the first run after a leadoff walk followed by two stolen bases. A throwing error on the second steal attempt allowed Cox to score.
The big third inning was made possible by an RBI infield single by redshirt sophomore Nate Cardy, an RBI double by freshman Elijah Quiceno and a sacrifice fly by junior Cody Callaway.
The run was short-lived, however, when the Crimson Hawks added three runs during the top of the fifth, a run in the sixth plus three more insurance runs in the seventh.
Gannon would cut into the deficit with a two-out RBI double by Callaway in the bottom of the final frame, but would ultimately suffer the loss, 11-5.
Quiceno totaled three of Gannon’s eight hits while Callaway and Cardy each added a pair.
Day two of the four-game series featured IUP continuing its stride from day one in game one, but saw Gannon rebound in Monday’s second game.
In game one, IUP scored the only run of the first four innings in its first at-bat, but Gannon would break the dead air in the top of the fifth on Cardy’s RBI double.
Up 2-1 in the top of the sixth, singles by Nicolia and Nick Restuccia put runners on the corners before Wagner brought in one with a single to push the lead to 3-1. A catcher’s interference call with the bases loaded brought a fourth run across.
That was all the offensive firepower the Knights could muster, however, as IUP exploded in the bottom of the sixth, sending 13 batters to the plate and scoring nine times. The Crimson Hawks used eight hits, a hit-by-pitch and an error to do their damage.
Gannon managed just six hits in the game, with Wagner getting two of them.
Sophomore Jarod Morrison went 5 2/3 innings on the mound, suffering his first loss in four decisions. The win marks IUP’s third straight after entering the series on a 10-game losing streak.
The nightcap was a completely different story, however, as Gannon had seven different batters record a hit. Colosi, Cardy, Restuccia and Jared Beach each had two hits.
Indiana scored its first and only run of the game in its first at-bat before Gannon responded in the third inning with four runs of its own.
Beach, the redshirt freshman, led off with a double to center and scored on a Wagner single up the middle. Wagner would then score to put Gannon ahead 2-1. The Knights pushed their lead to 4-1 after errors brought home two more runs to cap the inning.
Gannon would replicate its four-run inning just one inning later when Colosi drove in two with a single, Beach delivered an RBI single and Quiceno drove in another on an RBI groundout to increase the lead to 8-1.
Gannon would add a pair of insurance runs during its last at-bat. Restuccia drove in Cardy with an RBI single and Callaway would score the final run on a wild pitch.
Junior David Cricks improved his overall record to 3-2 after allowing just one run on four hits through six innings. He struck out four and walked two. He became just the seventh Knight since 2000 to win 10 career games.
Gannon took a 13-10 overall record into its game with Notre Dame and the Knights were tabbed eighth in the latest NCBWA Atlantic Region Poll.
Following Wednesday’s game with Notre Dame College of Ohio, the Knights will return to action in a 1 p.m. doubleheader Friday at Pitt-Johnstown before hosting the Mountain Cats in a 1 p.m. doubleheader at McConnell Family Stadium.