By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
NEW CONCORD, Ohio – If there is a team that has had a more unlucky recent string of games than Capital University Baseball has had the past few times out, the Crusaders would probably like to meet them. After a pair of hard-fought, one-run losses over the weekend, the Crusaders traveled to Muskingum University looking to turn its fate around against the Fighting Muskies. Unfortunately for the Purple and White, the team suffered another walk-off loss in a sweep.
Game One – Capital 3, Muskingum 5
For the second game in a row, Capital gained an early lead in the contest. A run in each of the third, fourth and seventh innings put the Crusaders ahead 3-0 but again a big inning for the opponent spelled doom for Capital.
Edide Harper led off the bottom of the seventh for the Muskies with a single and Michael Pagano pushed Harper to second after getting hit by a pitch. Muskingum got on the board with a single from Caden Mumaw. The Muskies then loaded the bases two batters later and Matt Stewart brought in two with a single of his own to tie the game. At this point, Capital starter Clay Piatt (Granville, Ohio/Granville) was relieved by Ross Thompson (Wadsworth, Ohio/Wadsworth) but Brad Donathon stepped up and cranked another two-run single to right that gave the Muskies five runs in the inning.
The Crusaders went down in order in each the eighth and ninth innings.
Piatt allowed five runs (four earned) in 6 2/3 innings while striking out four and giving up only four hits. Evan Hinds started for Muskingum and despite allowing 10 hits and a walk only allowed the three runs.
Alexander Smith (Elk Grove, Calif./Cosumnes Oaks) singled in Capital's first run of the day in the third inning sand finished the game with two hits. Drew Ellis (Doylestown, Ohio/Chippewa) and Daniel Walters (Concord, Oiho/Riverside) each had run-scoring singles as well. Smith, Zackary Ary (London, Ohio/Jonathan Alder), Shane Lyons (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg), and Ben Bethay (Lagrange, Ohio/Old Ham County) each recorded two hits.
Game Two – Capital 1, Muskingum 2 (10 Innings)
The second game of the day was another heartbreaking loss for the Crusaders as the Muskies came back to tie the game in the ninth inning and then won it in the 10th.
Trailing 1-0 and down to its final three outs, Muskingum began the bottom of the ninth with an out but then the next three batters reached on a walk, single and another walk to load the bases. Once again, Stewart came up to bat and tied the game at one with a sacrifice fly.
In the top of the 10th, Capital began the inning with a strikeout before Connor Richardson (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg – Summit) was hit by a pitch. However, the next two batters struck out and then grounded out to end Capital's first stab at extra-inning runs. In the home half of the 10th, Ben Van Wey worked a walk to get the leadoff man aboard and advanced to second on a sac bunt. Marc Ibarra then brought Van Wey home with a single to left to complete the sweep.
It was the second time in three games that the Crusaders lost on a walk-off and third straight game in which the Crusaders had a lead but went on to lose.
Nolan Fernandes was lights-out for the Muskies on the mound and allowed only one hit and two walks while fanning six Crusaders in 10 innings. Joseph Borkey (Kirtland Heights, Ohio/Lake Catholic) started for Capital and pitched seven shutout innings, striking out seven while surrendering four hits and a walk. Capital's only hit of the game came off the bat of Lyons in the fifth and Travis Gilbert (Marion, Ky./Crittenden County) recorded the lone RBI for the Purple and White that same inning on a groundout.
After the pair of losses, Capital sits at 11-15 overall and 2-6 in OAC play. The Crusaders have a home series against Otterbein University scheduled for Saturday, April 14 in what the team hopes will be its first games at Clowson Field this season. The first game of the day is scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch.