SCRANTON, Pa. - The Catholic University baseball team lost on a 10th inning walk-off homerun against Moravian in a pitcher's battle on Friday night at Volpe Field. The Greyhounds came out on top in an intense contest interrupted by a rain delay to start their Landmark Conference tournament.
Senior ace Jon Mierzwa delivered a resilient performance on the mound for the Cardinals as neither team could score in nine innings, but second-seeded Moravian won the game on one swing in the bottom of the 10th.
The Cardinals (26-15) could not push a run across after striking out 14 times in the Friday night contest. Pitching and defense prevailed for both teams as the Greyhounds left 11 on base as well, including two bases loaded chances.
Leadoff man Connor Sullivan led off the game with a double down the left field line, but did not pass third base after Moravian starter Jacoby Rhett struck out the side in the top of the first. Rhett gave up just three hits in nine innings of work.
A leadoff bunt single from senior Ryan Tracy started the bottom of the sixth inning, and Tracy advanced to second on a throwing error. Two Cardinal strikeouts later left the senior on third base to end the frame.
Heavy rains caused a 25-minute delay in the action in the bottom of the seventh inning. Catholic went to the bullpen in the delay and junior Eric Moore took the mound with one out and one on in the seventh.
Mierzwa battled to keep the Greyhounds off the scoreboard, throwing 6.1 innings and giving up no runs on two hits. He got out of bases loaded jams in the second and third innings to keep the game scoreless. The senior from Laurel, Md. had ten walks in the contest and threw 134 pitches, the longest outing in his career.
Moore kept the pace, pitching 2.2 scoreless innings with three strikeouts to keep the game tied at 0-0 after nine innings. Tracy and shortstop Tighe Watson turned a big 4-6-3 double play after a leadoff single in the eighth inning.
The game went into extras after Tracy made an incredible diving stop for the third out in the bottom of the ninth.
With five strikeouts, Mierzwa became the all-time leader in Landmark Conference history with 286 career strikeouts. He broke Moravian's Brendan Close's career record of 285 set back in 2012.
The 134 pitch outing marks Mierzwa's longest since he threw 123 pitches against Stevens on April 19 in a 5-2 victory.
Moravian's Austin Markowski ended the game with a no-doubt solo homer over the left field fence with one out in the bottom of the 10th.
The loss drops Catholic to a Saturday morning elimination game with fourth-seeded Scranton to decide who will continue on in the conference tournament. The Royals lost to the top seed Susquehanna 6-5 in the tournament's first game. The Cardinals will play as the home team tomorrow at Volpe Field, first pitch at 11 a.m.