Baseball’s win streak ends against Gannon

James Karasek, Staff writer

The Mercyhurst baseball team weathered the cold to knock Gannon University out of first place in the PSAC West.

The Lakers won their double header on Friday, April 9, but lost the first game at Gannon on Sunday before seeing the fourth game postponed in the top of the fifth.

With the two home wins, the home win streak extended to 10. The Lakers will travel to Gannon Wednesday, April 13, looking to close out the series, 3-1.

Laker starting pitchers, redshirt junior Colin McKee and senior Cam Knott, both moved to 6-1 on the season with their wins on Friday. Team RBI leader, sophomore Dan Elliott put on a display at the plate with eight RBIs, giving him 36 this season.

“I’ll do anything to help the team win,” said Elliott. “When people are on base, I just feel the need to bring them in. That’s my job.”

In game one, McKee went the distance, striking out 12 batters and holding the Golden Knights to four runs. The Lakers trailed, 3-0, in the top of the first inning, giving up two unearned runs, but responded at the plate with four runs.

“Whenever you’re confident your offense is putting runs up, you can pitch with more confidence and aggressiveness and really not worry about giving up a solo home run or you know, one run here or there,” McKee said.

Gannon’s starting pitcher Aaron Jackson hit two batters in the bottom of the inning leading to a Laker, 4-3, lead.

Elliott started things off with a two RBI single to left center, moving Hank Morrison to third and scoring Chris Gonzalez and Austin Alonge. Morrison scored to tie the game on a sacrifice fly to left field by shortstop Cameron Balego. The Lakers took the lead when Elliott scored on a double to left by catcher Sabatino DiNardo III.

Gannon tied the game in the third when right fielder Charles Benack scored on a wild pitch. The Lakers retook the lead, 5-4, in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single up the middle by Balego.

Mercyhurst tacked on another three runs in the sixth to lock up the win. McKee’s 12 strikeouts rank him No. 1 in strikeouts per nine innings among Division II pitchers.

“We’re throwing the ball pretty well. I think we’ve got to take it one pitch at a time and not look too far ahead and focus on the present and win every game we can trying to build our résumé for regionals,” McKee said.

Game two started off with a 3-0 Gannon lead, but that was all the runs the Laker’s pitching would allow. Knott went four innings and was relieved by senior Matthew Jaskolka in the fifth, earning him his first save and Knott’s sixth win.

The bats picked up in the fourth for Mecyhurst on a two RBI single to center by Gonzalez, shortly after followed by a three RBI double to left center by Elliott. The Lakers added four more runs in the fifth, securing their victory over the crosstown rival, capped off by Elliott’s fourth RBI of the game.

Mercyhurst lost, 5-4, in game one on Sunday. Before the snow started to fall, the Lakers had a 5-0 lead in the top of the fifth. Sophomore Matthew Minnick was on the mound with six strikeouts through four shutout innings.