The Hopkins baseball team began its season playing a doubleheader against the St. John Fisher College Cardinals at home this past weekend. For the first time since 2016, the Jays lost their season opener.
Sophomore pitcher Matthew Dillard got the start on the mound for the Jays in the first game of the doubleheader. After striking out three Cardinals in the first inning, Dillard let up a double to Cardinal short stop Justin Graham in the second.
A ground ball from Cardinal first baseman Brian Norsen allowed Graham to advance to third. Second baseman Ryan Simmons capitalized with a runner in scoring position by knocking in an RBI single.
The Cardinals continued to produce on the offensive end in the third. Center fielder Stephen Edgett cracked a triple to right field to start the inning, and left fielder Antony Matova brought Edgett home with a single.
The Jays finally got on the board when sophomore catcher James Ingram belted a home run to right center. With the score 2-1, the Cardinals made another offensive push in the fifth inning.
Edgett took four balls and advanced to second base off a Hopkins’ error. Mantova followed with a double to bring Edgett home. Mantova then stole third and scored off a wild pitch.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Jays responded. Senior third baseman Mike Eberle hit a line drive that skipped just inside the foul line for a double, and a single from fellow senior and center fielder Chris Festa was enough to bring Eberle to score.
Unfortunately for the Jays, the offense could not find its rhythm for the rest of the game. Instead, the Cardinals continued to pour in more runs.
In the top of the ninth, Cardinal designated hitter Noah Campanelli walked to start the inning. Simmons hit a single to follow, and Edgett brought the pair home, smacking the ball for a double.
The first game ended with a 6-2 victory for the Cardinals, setting them up to go undefeated for the weekend.
In the second half of the doubleheader, Hopkins pitcher Jaspar Carmichael hit leadoff hitter Mantova to put him on base. Right fielder Allen Murphy hit a two-run shot to right center field the next at bat.
The Cardinals put up another run before the inning’s end, placing the Jays in a 3-0 hole to start the game. However, the Jays did not seem fazed by the score.
Junior second baseman Matthew Ritchie fired a shot to right field to put the Jays on the board. Eberle then got on base after being hit by a pitch, and a wild pitch allowed Eberle to advance to second. A single from Festa bought Eberle the time to round home for another Hopkins run.
The offense on both sides became stagnant until the sixth inning, when the Jays rallied for three runs. Senior short stop Dillon Bowman, Festa and Ingram all made it on base with singles. The trio made it home off of wild pitches before the inning’s end. The Cardinals were able to tie the score up in the top of the seventh. Then in the bottom of the same inning, junior right fielder Austin Sacks scored a run to give Hopkins a one run lead.
In response, the Cardinals exploded for five runs in the eighth. Murphy cracked a double bringing in two Cardinal runs.
With a runner on third, Graham went yard for a two-run shot to right field. As the next batter, Norsen sent another ball over the fence to cap the offensive outburst. In the final inning, the Cardinals put up three more runs while the Jays put up just one more.
Winning the second game 13-7, the Cardinals swept the doubleheader.
However, the Blue Jays had another shot at a win before the end of the weekend with its game against the Arcadia University Knights. Coming in with a 4-1 record, the Knights would be no easy matchup for the Jays on paper, but the Jays found success early on.
Festa’s base hit in the first brought Eberle from first to third. Sacks then swung for a double to bring Eberle home for the first run of the game. In the bottom of the second, the Jays packed on four more runs thanks to hits from senior designated hitter Adam Kohl, Ritchie and Eberle.
Hopkins extended its lead to seven runs in the bottom of the fourth. Sacks hit a deep fly ball over the left field fence for a two-run home run. Later in the inning, sophomore catcher AJ King knocked a ball past the second baseman, giving Ingram enough time to slide home. Before the game’s end, the Jays scored five more runs, four of which came in the bottom of the sixth. For the rest of the game, the Jays coasted to a 13-4 victory.
Eberle credits the team’s bounce back to sticking to its game plan.
“We didn’t try to change anything after dropping the first two games. There were some missed opportunities and some tough luck, and that’s all it takes to lose to a very good team. If we play to our ability, we can beat anyone going forward,” he said.
Eberle went 4-4 on the day with four RBIs. Sacks also drove in four runs while going 3-4 for the day.
Freshman pitcher Peter Schaefer picked up the win. Fellow classmate Kieren Collins pitched three shutout innings with four strikeouts as the relief pitcher.
At 1-2 on the season so far, the Blue Jays will be back to compete at the Baltimore Invitational this weekend. With the rest of the season to go, Eberle emphasized the importance of following Head coach Bob Babb’s message.
“Coach Babb’s message will continue to be that we need to be hypercritical of ourselves after every game to get to where we need to be,” said Eberle. “We have a super talented team. If we can improve upon ourselves with every game, then we can make another run to the World Series.”