|Final - Game 1||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Lebanon, Tenn. Ernest L. Stockton|
|2 Players (#6,#14)||Doubles||None|
|Final - Game 2||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Lebanon, Tenn. Ernest L. Stockton|
|Bobby St. Pierre||Save||-|
|#14 Taylor Grzelakowski||Doubles||2 Players (#25,#36)|
LEBANON, Tenn. – Madonna baseball kicked off the 2016 season in sweeping fashion, topping the Cumberland Phoenix by 8-0 and 5-2 final scores on Friday (Feb. 12) in Lebanon, Tenn.
LEBANON, Tenn. – Madonna baseball kicked off the 2016 season in sweeping fashion, topping the Cumberland Phoenix by 8-0 and 5-2 final scores on Friday (Feb. 12) in Lebanon, Tenn. Reigning WHAC All-Conference first team member Evan Piechota sparked an impressive all-around day for the Crusaders, tossing a complete game, one-hit shutout in Friday's opener.
Junior transfer Johno Rodriguez got the ball from head coach Greg Haeger in game two and didn't disappoint on his way to five innings of one-run ball while punching out eight batters, helping the Crusaders earn the sweep and move to 2-0 after the season's first day.
Sitting just outside the Coaches' Poll Top-25 to begin the season, the Crusaders picked up a pair of valuable wins over a Phoenix (2-3) program that is two years removed from winning a NAIA national championship.
Both games were scheduled seven-inning contests.
GAME ONE – MADONNA 8, CUMBERLAND 0
Piechota (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson High School) was dominant from the start, punching out five Phoenix batters in a full seven innings of work on the hill. The senior right-handed pitcher did not yield a walk and gave up one hit – a fifth-inning single through the left side – to kick start his fourth and final season donning the Madonna Blue and Gold.
The Crusaders got on the board for the first time in 2016 when Jimmy White (Cincinnati, Ohio/Sinclair CC) hit a sac fly to center to score senior first baseman John Lauro (Rochester Hills, Mich./UD-Jesuit High School) in the second inning. The RBI was the first of two in the opening game for White as he plated Lauro for what proved to be the game-winning run.
A three-run third inning was started by junior outfielder Taylor Grzelakowski's double down the left-field line that brought Lauro around to score. Ben Matigian (Livonia, Mich./Churchill) followed with a two-RBI single up the middle, scoring Grzelakowski (Fraser, Mich./Fraser High School) and Levi Larmour (Oakville, Ontario/Mesa CC) to give the Crusaders a commanding 4-0 lead after three innings.
The Crusaders went on to add three more in the sixth and one in the seventh to earn the 8-0 win, capped off by another White sac fly RBI. Matt Deneau (Amherstburg, Ontario/Saint Thomas Villanova), Shane Dokey (Howell, Mich./Brighton High School) and Lauro all recorded RBIs in the sixth to break the game wide open for the Crusaders.
Grzelakowski (2-for-2) and Matigian (2-for-3) led the Crusaders at the plate in the eight-run victory with a pair of hits each.
Phoenix lefty Mike Melendez was handed the loss after being chased in the early stages of the opener.
GAME TWO – MADONNA 5, CUMBERLAND 2
After a scoreless two innings from both teams, the Crusaders were able to plate a pair of runs in the third behind a Mike Tibbits RBI single up the middle and a Ryan Lambrecht sac fly RBI to left. Tibbits (Plymouth, Mich./Catholic Central) brought senior utility man Chase Dobbie (Mississauga, Ontario/Meadowvale Secondary) around to score to give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead, while Lambrecht (Lake Orion, Mich./Lake Orion) sent Zack Byron (Dexter, Mich./Macomb CC) home to make it a 2-0 game through three innings.
The Crusaders gave Rodriguez (Sterling Heights, Mich./Indiana Hills CC) insurance runs in the fourth, tacking on two more runs off the bat of Lauro. The first baseman brought home Dokey and Grzelakowski to give Rodriguez and the Crusaders all the runs needed to complete the two-game sweep.
Grzelakowski added a sac fly RBI in the fifth, responding a half-inning later to the Phoenix's first run of the day to lift the Crusaders lead to 5-1.
Rodriguez gave way to setup man Alex DeYonker (Livonia, Mich./Franklin High School) in the sixth, finishing his first action as a Crusader with a final line of five innings pitched on two hits and one earned run with eight strikeouts. DeYonker allowed one run in his only inning of work before handing off to closer Bobby St. Pierre (Windsor, Ontario/Crowder CC).
With his team holding on to a 5-2 lead in the final inning, St. Pierre toed the rubber and shut the door on the Phoenix to preserve the day one sweep for the Crusaders. The junior closer walked one batter before retiring three straight to pick up his first save of the season.
The Crusaders return to Woody Hunt Stadium for a 1 p.m. ET single game to conclude the season-opening three-game set against the Phoenix. Live audio and live stats will be available – links to coverage can be found on madonnacrusaders.com.