Senior Justin Fahy managed one hit and scored a run against St. Francis on Saturday
JOLIET, Ill. — Olivet Nazarene University's baseball team put together a great finish to their spring break trip, winning four of five games to finish the nine-day trip. With two wins over Avila University (Mo.) on Monday, the Tigers were anxious to start the CCAC season that weekend. Weather caused the postponement of ONU’s doubleheader on Saturday and pushed back the Joliet nine-inning game to Saturday. However, the Tigers started the conference season against University of St. Francis (Ill.) in the cold. The Tigers only managed three hits in a 3-2 loss.
Through the first five innings, ONU (11-9, 0-1) was hitless as Adam Panayotovich had things going for the Saints on the mound. Meanwhile, the Saints (11-10, 1-0) put a run on the board in the third with back-to-back to hits and a Brandon Mendoza ground-out RBI. The Tigers finally managed to get the bats going in the sixth inning when they loaded the bases for Adrian Perez (Chicago, Ill.). Perez brought home Caleb Gulledge (Spring Arbor, Mich.) on a sac fly. Ryan Kern (Bloomington, Ill.) singled in the next at-bat to score Justin Fahy (Fargo, N.D.), and the Tigers took a 2-1 lead.
However, the Saints responded in the bottom of the seventh with a run of their own. Mendoza flied out but managed to bring home Tim Reichert on a sac fly to tie the game. The game remained tied into the ninth inning as the Tigers went down in order. The Saints loaded the bases and finally scored on a wild pitch for the game-winning run. ONU failed to respond following their two-run sixth inning, and they couldn’t manage a hit after that point.
Junior Jonathan Fightmaster (Bourbonnais , Ill.) started the fifth game of the year and went six innings, allowing two runs off six hits. Senior Paul Griffin (Pekin, Ill.) faced three batters in the seventh inning, and Ben Heller (Whitewater, Wis.) (3-2) came in for the eighth and gave up the unearned run that was eventually the game winner. He allowed four hits among eight batters.
Adam Panayotovich (2-1) started for the Saints, and allowed only two runs off three hits while striking out 10 in a complete game effort.
For the Saints, Brandon Mendoza finished with 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Joe Ruge went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, and five other Saints had one hit.
ONU will continue conference play in Deerfield, Ill. with a doubleheader against Trinity International University on Tuesday, March 19, starting at 1 p.m.