The Crusader baseball team started its season with a tough test as they faced off against No. 7 Rhodes College on a cool Friday afternoon.
Senior pitcher Aaron Barteau took the bump for the Cru and pounded the zone early as he struck out the side in the first inning.
The Cru got on the board first when Senior Chase Burrow tripled to drive in Scott Stephens. Burrows then scored when Max Conway hit a fly ball that was dropped by the right fielder to give the Cru an early 2-0 lead.
The Lynx responded in the fourth inning when Bill Munson scored on a fielder’s choice before Bennett Notestine stole home to tie the game.
Rhodes took a 3-2 lead in the fifth when an error by third baseman Dakota Parsons allowed Jackson Lourie to score.
Barteau gave up three runs on two hits over five innings.
“His stuff was really good. Being a strikeout pitcher is a double-edged sword, because you get a lot of strikeouts, but you throw a lot of pitches,” UMHB head coach Ben Shipp said.
The Cru tied things up in the bottom half of the inning when Cody Stone’s RBI single knocked in Will Stafford.
Rhodes regained the lead in the seventh inning when Nathan Foshee dropped a squeeze bunt down the line.
Parsons doubled to start the eighth for the Cru and scored on an error by Rhodes second baseman Zac Lange to make it 5-4.
Riley Davis singled to start the ninth for the Cru, but Lynx pitcher Jack Mercer shut the door and closed out the win for Rhodes.
Even though the Lynx got the win, Rhodes head coach Jeff Cleanthes didn’t feel like his team played the better game on the afternoon.
“We were outplayed by a really good baseball team,” Clanthes said. “We just got the plays and they got the bad hops.”
The Cru took the diamond for a second time Friday evening to face the Ponoma-Pitzer Sagehens.
Ponoma-Pitzer got the scoring started in the third inning when Tanner Nishioka’s double allowed Simon Rosenbaum to score on a throwing error by UMHB right fielder Will Stafford. The Sagehens added another run in the inning on an RBI single from Bryce Rogan.
In the home half of the third, Stafford came through with a two-out double and then scored on a base hit from Seth Martin to make it 2-1.
However, Pomona-Pitzer added RBI singles in the fourth and fifth innings to pull away 4-2.
Crusader starter Seth Hill gave up four runs on eight hits, but managed to strand seven on base.
“Seth didn’t have his best stuff, but he’s so tough physically and emotionally. He will have better days. That’s what you’re going to get from Seth,” Shipp said.
Stafford hit his second double of the game in the sixth inning and came in to score on a base hit off the bat of Dakota Parsons.
Each team added a run in the seventh, but the Sagehens were able to tack on additional runs in the eighth and ninth innings to extend its lead to 7-3.
In the bottom of the ninth, Crusader third baseman Scott Stephens scored on a wild pitch to make it a three-run game. The Cru managed to load the bases, but Seth Martin fouled popped it up with two outs to end the game.
Sagehens Starter Nicholsd Radich allowed three runs over seven innings and struck out nine.
Even though the Cru came up on the losing end of both games, Stafford said the team is capable of making the necessary adjustments going forward.
“I think if we just had a few hits here or a few plays there, we would have won both today. There were just some minor mistakes, but we can correct it,” he said.
The Cru will continue its opening weekend Saturday with a pair of games against Whitworth University and Piedmont College.