HUNTINGDON, Pa. - Behind strong starting pitching and 26 hits, the Catholic University baseball team picked up two important wins over Juniata Saturday afternoon at Langdon-Goodale Field. The Cardinals defeated Juniata 8-1 in the first game and 7-2 in the second game to take the first two contests in the three-game Landmark Conference series.
The Cardinals (13-10, 5-6 LC) were led by a complete game performance on the mound from senior ace Jon Mierzwa and a 4-RBI day at the plate for junior Nolan Lundholm for the first victory. The Eagles (8-16, 1-7) got on the board first in game two, but strong hitting helped Catholic get the sweep to start the three-game series. Junior pitcher Ross Dean matched the performance with seven innings of his own in game two for a win. Sophomore Michael Doody led the squad with five hits on the day.
Game 1: Catholic 8 | Juniata 1
Juniata got one across in the bottom of the first, but Catholic answered with three runs in the third to take a lead they held for the rest of the game. Leadoff man Connor Sullivan singled and then senior Bailey Lewis singled to extend his hitting streak to a team-best eight games. Lundholm followed with an RBI single to left center before Doody brought two home with a single to put Catholic up 3-1.
The rally started a streak of four consecutive innings in which the Cardinals scored. Lundholm doubled down the right field line in the fourth to score Sullivan and Ryan Tracy. It was one of Lundholm's three doubles on the day and two of his six RBIs. The clutch hit came with two outs, a recurring theme for the Cardinals who hit hit .429 with two outs (12-for-28).
Junior Cid Porter added to the lead with a solo homerun to left field in the fifth inning, his first of the season.
Lewis drove in Tracy with an RBI-single in the sixth frame for his team-leading 12th multi-hit game in the opener, and then Lundholm doubled once again, this time down the left field line, to score another run. The 8-1 lead was plenty for Mierzwa to close out the game on his own.
Mierzwa was dealing on the mound for the Cardinals in game one to earn his fourth win of the season. He gave up just two hits, struck out seven batters, walked one, and got through seven innings in just 79 pitches. Juniata's Matt Innella singled to center in the second inning for the Eagles' only hit out of the infield, and Mierzwa did not give up another hit for the rest of the contest. After his first complete game of the season, the Laurel, Md. native currently shares the lead in the Landmark Conference in wins with Dean (4) and is second in strikeouts (41).
Game 2: Catholic 7 | Juniata 2
The Eagles struck first again in the second inning with a run, but the visitors answered as they did in game one with a three-run third inning. Lundholm smacked his third double of the afternoon to score Tracy and Lewis to take the lead. After Lundholm advanced on a wild pitch, Doody reached base safely on an RBI infield single. The Cardinals scored an unearned run in both the fourth and fifth innings on two Juniata errors to go up 5-1.
Lewis tripled to lead off the seventh inning and two batters later Porter brought him in with an RBI single. Porter was one of seven Cardinals that totaled at least two hits in the doubleheader. Tracy doubled to score Tyler Shaffer in the eighth to put Catholic up 7-2.
Junior right-hander Ross Dean did his best to match Mierzwa with an impressive seven-inning outing of his own in game two. Dean struck out seven and gave up two earned runs on seven hits for his fourth win of the year. The junior from East Greenwich, R.I. now has two straight seven-inning winning starts after pitching against Scranton in a complete game 7-1 win last weekend. Fellow junior Eric Moore came on in relief to close out the game, pitching two scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth with two strikeouts.
The Cardinals wrap up the series with one nine-inning contest tomorrow at Langdon-Goodale Field. First pitch is set for 12 p.m.