Fort Lauderdale, FL. – When the Wheeling University Baseball team (0-3, 0-0) made the trip down to Florida this past weekend, they knew they were going against one of the top conferences in Division II Baseball. They wrapped up the three-day trip in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday and came close to their first win of the season, but fell 9-6. Wheeling scored at least six runs in all three of their games and showed that their lineup is one to be taken seriously.
For the second game in a row, the Cardinals got early offense in the top of the first inning. Jake Skantze started things with a double, and Riley Cameron would single through the left side of the infield to put runners at the corners with no outs. Chris Iazzetta, who had a big night at the plate on Friday, came up and lifted a sacrifice fly to right to put the Cardinals ahead 1-0. They couldn’t manage to push across another run in the inning, but they were able to score first for the second game in a row. However, that lead wouldn’t last long as Nova Southeastern scored two runs in the bottom of the first and flipped the score giving the Sharks a 2-1 lead.
Neither team scored in the second inning, but the Cardinals would once again get out in front in the third. Connor Watt began the inning with a single, but he was erased on a double play that looked like it would kill the inning. However, Cameron worked a two-out walk to give Iazzetta another chance with a runner on base. It took full advantage lifting a two-run home run, his second of the season, over the left-centerfield wall to get the Cardinals back out in front 3-2. Wheeling would add another run in the top of the fourth after Jacob Murray and Blake Vandiver were each hit by a pitch to start the inning. A double play left the Cardinals with a runner at third and two outs, but Anthony May would single to left to score the run and bring the Cardinal lead to 4-2.
The Sharks offense got going again in the bottom of the fourth, scoring four runs and taking the lead at 6-4. Iazzetta picked up his fourth RBI the following inning when he scored Skantze on a sacrifice fly and got the Cardinals to within one run. The Sharks added on in the bottom of the sixth with another run, but Wheeling looked to try and take their first lead since the fourth inning in the top of the seventh. Watt singled to start the inning and back-to-back walks loaded the bases with one out. JR Heavilin would come through with an RBI single scoring Watt and bringing the score to 7-6. However, the Sharks worked their way out of the jam with a fielder’s choice and a strikeout to hold the Cardinals to one run.
Unfortunately, that was the last run the Cardinals would score and Nova Southeastern added two more to bring the game to its final score of 9-6. Senior Logan Pillars got his first start of the season and threw 3.0 solid innings allowing two earned runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out one. Brendan Moran and Josh Wessler each made their season debuts throwing 0.2 and 0.1 innings respectively without giving up a run. Kyle Dalton finished out the game’s final two innings, allowing two runs on a hit while walking two and striking out one. As a whole, the pitching staff put together one of their best performances of the season, but the offense shined once again.
The Cardinals have now scored a combined 21 runs in their first three games of the season, and their leader today was Iazzetta. The senior finished the day going 1-2 with a home run, a walk, and four RBI. He now has seven RBI on the season leading Wheeling. Anthony May and Connor Watt each had 2-4 days at the plate, while Watt drove in an RBI. Jack Skantze continued his success from the leadoff spot with his third straight multi-hit game going 2-5. The offense racked up 10 hits on the day and now has at least nine hits in each of their first three games.
The Wheeling University Baseball team hits the road again next weekend when they travel to Murfreesboro, North Carolina for a three-game set with Chowan University.