Over the weekend, College of St. Joseph's baseball team went 0-4 against the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics' (NAIA) #4 ranked team in the nation, Southeastern University. In the opening game, CSJ went ahead 4-0 after the top of the fifth inning, but a run-ridden bottom of the fifth sealed a 13-4 victory for the Fire. In the second match-up of the series, senior pitcher Ben Brown held the Fire to just three hits and two runs throughout the game.
In the first game on Friday, March 16 the Fighting Saints went ahead 2-0 after the first four innings. In the first, Benny Pena reached base after being hit by a pitch and Brian Navarro reached on a walk, but both CSJ players were ultimately left on base. The Saints' defense and a strikeout by first-year pitcher Sage McCoy prevented the Fire from reaching base in the opening inning.
CSJ got the scoring going in the top of the second inning. After two batters struck out, Mathew Santiago was hit by a pitch to reach first base. Next up to bat was CSJ's junior catcher Mauricio Rondon. Rondon hit a long double to left center field that allowed Santiago to round the bases for the first score of the game. A single by John Loschiavo allowed pinch runner Kyle Welch to try for home, but Welch was thrown out at home for out number three. Once again, CSJ held Southeastern two a one-two-three out inning in the bottom of the second.
Pena recorded a hit in the third inning when he sent a single through the right side of the infield. The junior then stole second base to reach scoring position. When Brian Quezada flied out to right field, Pena advanced to third base. Next to bat was Navarro, who struck out swinging but reached first off a passed ball by the catcher. Pena was able to score in the process to put the Fighting Saints ahead 2-0. The Fire completed a double play to end CSJ's momentum. In the bottom of the third, Southeastern did not record a hit for the third straight inning. In the top of the fourth, CSJ went out one-two-three thanks to smooth fielding by the Fire. In the bottom of the inning, Dominic Anagnos sent a double to center field for Southeastern's first hit of the contest. Two Fire runners were left on base during the inning without recording a run.
In the top of the fifth inning, Loschiavo hit a double to left center field and was able to reach third base on an error by Southeastern's center fielder. Next, Pena was sent to first after being hit by a pitch. Quezada stepped up to the batter's box next and drove a single through the left side to allow Loschiavo to race across home plate and put the Saints ahead 3-0. Quezada advanced to second base and Pena made it to third on a wild pitch against Navarro. Navarro then connected for a single to right field that allowed Pena to score and give CSJ a 4-0 lead. The Saints' best inning, with three hits and two runs, was outdone by Southeastern's best inning in the bottom of the fifth.
The Fire recorded eight hits and 12 runs with the help of four errors in the fifth inning by CSJ. The inning started with a solo home run by Dan Valerio. Two Fire batters were then walked to reach base. The next hitter, Torrence Sumerlin, drove a home run to left field to record three RBIs on the play. Even after a pitching change by the Saints, Southeastern recorded yet another home run in the inning when Manuel Mesa homered to center field, which gave Southeastern a 5-4 lead. The huge hits eventually subsided for the Fire, but smart base running and errors in the field allowed their scoring streak to continue.
CSJ was unable to score for the remainder of the game, though first-year player Kameron Broussard record a hit in the sixth inning, and the Fire put up one more run in the bottom of the sixth to complete the come-back win 13-4. CSJ tallied seven hits to the Fire's 10 (eight of which were in the fifth inning). Loschiavo led the Saints with two hits and one run. Pena scored two runs and recorded a hit. Quezada, Rondon and Navarro notched one hit and one RBI apiece.
In the latter game of Friday's doubleheader, Southeastern recorded their first and only two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Anagnos singled to shortstop to reach first first base. He then stole second, followed by third after a wild pitch. Marvin Malone reached base on a walk and promptly stole second base. A wild pitch against the Fire's fourth batter of the game allowed Anagnos to score. Nick Bottari flied out for the second out of the inning, but then a passed ball during Ivan Nunez's at bat allowed Malone to cross home and make the game 2-0 in favor of Southeastern.
Dillon Maxon recorded a single for the Fighting Saints in the top of the second inning but was left on base. In the bottom of the inning, Brown struck out Marcus Stump and two other batters were thrown out by the Saints to close the inning. Neither team recorded a hit in the third. Pena was left on base after being walked in the top of the fourth inning. Southeastern's Nunez hit a single to short stop in the bottom of the fourth inning. Valerio walked to reach base, but was quickly thrown out at second on a double play by CSJ when Vince Volpatti connected on a pitch. Stump grounded out the end the fourth inning. The top of the fifth led to no hits for the Saints. Brown struck out two of three batters faced in the bottom of the fifth inning and Mesa flied out to center field for the other out.
Loschiavo recorded a hit in the top of the sixth inning when he singled through the right side of the field. One CSJ runner was left on the base by the end of the inning. Valerio recorded a hit for the Fire when he singled in the bottom of the sixth, but he was eventually left on base as well. Petar Rumora was walked in the top of the seventh to reach base, but CSJ could not record a hit in the final inning for the chance at a come back victory.
The Saints fell 2-0 off the two runs scored by Southeastern in the first inning. Brown struck out six high-caliber batters during the game and allowed just three hits. Loschiavo and Maxon accounted for CSJ's two hits.