NEWPORT NEWS, VA. - The Catholic University baseball team kicked off its spring break trip in a big way Saturday afternoon with a 4-3 win over No. 3 Christopher Newport at Captains Park in Newport News, Va.
The Cardinals (3-3) used 11 base hits as seven batters in the starting nine reached base safely and senior Jon Mierzwa led the way on the mound to defeat the Captains (9-2). Junior Cid Porter went 2-4 on the day and his two-RBI single in the fourth inning proved to be the difference in the contest.
The visitors got on the board right away in the top of the first inning. Senior Ryan Tracy extended his hit streak to six games with a single to right field, and then sophomore Michael Doody brought him home with the team's only extra-base hit of the afternoon, a double down the left field line.
Mierzwa followed the strong start with a dominant first inning, facing four batters and striking out three of them. The senior from Laurel, Md. struck out nine batters in five innings of work, giving up five hits and two earned runs to a Christopher Newport team that was averaging almost 12 runs per game coming into the game.
Catholic added to its lead in the second frame to go up 2-0. After sophomore Connor Cozad got hit by a pitch, Porter singled up the middle. Two batters later, leadoff hitter Connor Sullivan delivered with a two-out single to right field to score Cozad.
The Cardinals showed speed on the base paths to push runners across the plate in the third, picking up two runs that would prove crucial to defeat the Captains, who received one first-place vote in the D3baseball.com/NCBWA Top 25 poll last week. Senior Bailey Lewis led off with a single to left field, making him the second Catholic player to have at least a hit in every game so far this season. He stole second base and then advanced to third on a sacrifice fly by Nolan Lundholm. Cozad walked and stole second to give Porter a big opportunity with men on second and third with two outs.
The Lincroft, N.J. native came through in the clutch with a single through the left side that scored both Lewis and Cozad to extend the lead to 4-0.
The Captains answered with one run in both the fourth and fifth innings, and Catholic went to the bullpen with a two-run lead after five. Ross Dean, Collin Brown, and Eric Moore each took the mound for an inning each, giving up one run on two hits in three innings.
Junior Jack Ropelewski came in for the ninth to close out the game and struck out the side, picking up his first save of the year.
Catholic continues to head south after the game to begin its spring break games in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Cardinals take on Penn College on Monday at 12:30 p.m. at the Ripken Experience.