Baseball team kicks off season in Florida

Timothy Corso, Staff Writer

The Gannon University baseball team posted a 5-3 record in the Russ-Matt Invitational over the spring break week, capping its Florida trip with back-to-back wins over Ashland (6-4) and Malone (21-10).

The Knights opened the invitational with a win over Findlay 11-8, in large thanks to a seven-run seventh inning.

A bases-clearing triple from third baseman Ryan Kalbfus tied the game up at 7-7. A couple batters later, outfielder Jorge Mejia tripled in Kalbfus, giving Gannon an 8-7 lead.

That would be the last lead the Knights needed to secure the win.

Kalbfus finished 3 for 5 with 5 RBIs.

Mejia got a pair of hits and a walk in four at-bats and also drove in a run.

Pitcher Matthew Graeber earned the win for the Knights, allowing a pair of runs over two innings and striking out three batters in relief.

The next game wasn’t as fruitful for Gannon as the Knights fell to Davenport 5-4 in 11 innings.

Preseason All-American Deven Judy got the start on the bump for Gannon and allowed four runs over six innings of work. Judy struck out five Panthers during his outing.

Judy’s effort was enough to keep Gannon in the game as the Knights trailed only 4-2 after six innings.

It was in the bottom of the seventh that Kalbfus singled to right to cut the Davenport lead to one.

Later in the inning, shortstop Trey Zeroski reached on a fielder’s choice, brining in Kalbfus to tie the game at 4-4.

However, a late game error by Kieran Gagnon gave Davenport the lead in the top of the 11th and that was it for the Knights.

Joseph Reitebach was tagged with the loss for Gannon.

Gannon split its next four games of the invitational with a pair of wins over Findlay (6-2) and Tiffin (6-5) and losses to 22nd-ranked Rollins (7-2) and Minnesota State-Mankato (17-4).

Notable performances came from Carson Whiteman in the win over the Oilers, as he allowed just one earned run on three hits and struck out six in 5 1/3 innings.

Whiteman also recorded his first collegiate win.

The next big showing came from Luke Callahan, who went 2-for-4, including a three-run blast in the Knights’ win over Tiffin.

In the first of Gannon’s final two games, Judy registered his first victory as the Knights beat Ashland.

Judy tossed 6 1/3 innings and struck out eight batters while allowing three runs.

Kalbfus went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, three of which came via a three-run shot in the fifth inning, giving the Knights a 6-2 lead, a margin that held for good.

Eric Sapp struck out four batters over five innings while allowing three runs, earning the win in Gannon’s last game in Florida over Malone.

The 21 runs the Knights scored came courtesy of six Gannon home runs, including a pair of two-run shots from Kalbfus, who had a 3-for-4 game.

Gannon (5-3) will host D’Youville next in back-to-back days of doubleheaders on March 19-20 at McConnell Family Stadium.

Both doubleheaders start at noon, with the second games beginning at 2:30 p.m.

Timothy Corso

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