STEVENSON, Md. – The Stevenson baseball team had another lead get away from them late in a game as the visiting Catholic University Cardinals used a five-run eighth to take the edge and never looked back as they upended the Green and White by a final of 10-6 on Wednesday afternoon at Sugar Field.
Stevenson (15-16, 6-9 MAC Commonwealth) was led by a 3-4 day from sophomore Kevin Murray Jr. who scored two runs, stole a pair of bases, and knocked one in. Junior Matthew Kerber went 2-5 with a double and two runs scored. Seniors John D'Aquanno and Billy Small were a combined three-for-seven driving home five. Two other Mustangs added solo hits.
Sophomore starter Tyler Graham gave up two hits in the top of the first but did not allow a runner to reach second base as he got a fly out from Brennan Cotter to retire the side. The Green and White struck in the bottom half after Kerber opened things up with a single off of Catholic starter David Gately and stole second base. He went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Murray for the first out of the frame. That sent D'Aquanno to the dish and delivered a sac fly to left which drove home the runner. Small grounded out back to the mound to end the threat at just 1-0. In inning number two the Cardinals would take the lead. Three straight singles led off the frame to bring Will Pyne to the plate. He bounced one out to D'Aquanno at third who came up firing to senior catcher Jake Dimon at the dish to force out Michael Doody, but the toss down to first sailed over the head of Small allowing Connor Cozad to come in knotting the score 1-1. After a fielder's choice for Tighe Watson saw yet another runner thrown out at home the bases Ryan Tracy gave the guests the edge with a base hit to center. Bailey Lewis grounded out to sophomore Brady Kessler at second to retire the side.
The score remained that way until the last of the third when Stevenson managed to retake the advantage plating three men. Senior Michael Kelly began the rally with a one-out walk before taking second on a passed ball. Kerber was the next man to hit and he flew to center for the second out however it was deep enough for Kelly to race over to third. Murray got the run-in with an RBI knock to center-field and then stole second with D'Aquanno at-bat. He sent the Green and White back in front on a two-bagger that rattled around in the left-field corner scoring Murray to make it 3-2. That signaled the end of the day for Gately as he was replaced by MJ Dziczkowski. The first man he faced was Small who extended the lead with a base hit to right. Sophomore designated-hitter Mark Terrell went down watching strike three to keep the game at 4-2 at the end of three. Graham was unable to complete a scoreless shutdown frame in the top of the fourth as with runners on first and second Lewis sent one through the right side of the infield to close the gap by one 4-3. Jake Crist would ground out to D'Aquanno at third with the bases loaded to halt the rally.
Stevenson grabbed their largest lead of the game in inning five when they added two more. Kerber and Murray opened the frame with back-to-back hits. After Murray stole second to put a pair in scoring position for D'Aquanno with no outs. He contributed another run batted in with a sacrifice fly to center scoring Kerber and sent Murray hustling to third. That made the Cardinals dip into their bullpen yet again as Sean Carroll was brought in to face Small who made him pay with a single to right scoring Murray. Then with two men on and two gone Kessler flied to left to end the inning at 6-3. The top of the sixth saw the Mustangs go to their bullpen as junior Tayvon Smith was tasked with providing a shutdown inning and he did just that allowing one hit, but getting two lineouts and a pop-up to maintain the three-run cushion.
In the eighth Catholic got the leadoff batter on when Cozad smacked a single out to left. That was the final hitter for Smith as he was replaced by freshman Phil Wugalter. Connor Sullivan then reached safely on a bunt single and went to second on a throwing error by the second baseman which also let Cozad scamper home on the play. With one gone and two on Tracy ripped a two-run double out to deep right. Into the game came senior Eric Prachniak he unleashed a wild pitch, hit Lewis and intentionally walked Cotter to load the bases. That sent Crist to the dish who picked up a pair of RBIs by sending a single through the right side. Doody and Cozad were put away to stop the rally with the score reading 8-6 Catholic. The Mustangs went one-two-three in their half against Jack Ropelewski. Unfortunately for Stevenson, the Cardinals added two more in the ninth on RBI hits from Tracy and Lewis. With the Green and White facing their last chance trailing 10-6 they were unable to mount a rally as Murray came up with a two-out single but D'Aquanno grounded out to first to end the game.
Stevenson starter Graham had a good day but took a no-decision going five innings giving up three runs on nine hits while striking out three. Smith was strong out of the pen lasting two frames surrendering two hits and one run fanning one. Wugalter (0-2) had a rough outing going 0.1 of an inning facing four batters and letting in three runs.
The Mustangs will be back in action on Friday, April, 20 when they host Alvernia University in MAC Commonwealth play at Sugar Field. First pitch of game one against the Golden Wolves is set for 3:30pm.