AUBURNDALE, Fla. – On the final day of the Capital University baseball team's spring break trip, the Purple and White were challenged by St. Mary's University of Minnesota. The Cardinal used a pair of three-run innings late in the game to solidify a 9-3 victory over the Crusaders on Saturday morning. Capital ends its stay in the Sunshine State with an overall record of 7-2, one of its best starts in recent history.
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Senior Shane Wellman (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall) earned his second start on the hill, but a rocky beginning to the game put Cap down early. The Cardinal got the leadoff man on base via a single and Wellman walked the next batter. Three hitter Ben Buerkle then recorded a run-scoring single before a passed ball allowed a second run to cross the plate. A two-out single later in the inning put St. Mary's up, 3-0.
Once Capital got through the first inning, Wellman cruised through the next three frames. He induced an untraditional 9-3 double play to end the second. The senior then went on to take care of the heart of the order by striking out the side in the third, and recorded another 1-2-3 inning to end his second pass through the St. Mary's lineup. Wellman escaped the fifth by stranding a runner in scoring position with a pair of groundouts.
Capital had no problems putting runners on base, but struggled getting them around to score until the ninth. In the second through six innings, the Crusaders stranded at least one runner in scoring position. Over the course of the game Cap left nine runners on base, seven of those in scoring position.
The Crusaders did their damage on the scoreboard in the home half of the ninth inning courtesy of three consecutive base hits from the bottom of the order and two sacrifice flies that scored runs. Freshman Beau Otto (Cincinnati, Ohio/Roger Bacon) was among those players to record a hit in the inning, which made for his second of the day.
St. Mary's put three runs on the board in the eighth and ninth innings. In Lunden Damuth's second inning of relief, the Cardinal led the inning off with back-to-back hits. Those runners would eventually come around to score following an RBI double by Bob Kinne and a sacrifice fly from the next batter. Freshman Kole Carter finished the inning out but allowed one more run to score. St. Mary's tagged three more runs onto its total against Tyler Spears and Ross Thompson in the ninth, all unearned.
Otto now has three multi-hit games on the season, all coming within the last two days. He added his third RBI of the season and tallied his third stolen base against the Cardinal, as well. He exits the week with the highest batting average among Crusaders with at least 10 at bats, recording an average of .412 over six games.
Wellman (0-1) took the loss despite allowing just two earned runs, and struck out four total Cardinal batters.
Capital ends its stay at the RussMatt Invitational with an overall record of 7-2. Since 2006, Capital had not won more than five games at the RussMatt Invitational. They are also on the brink of tying their best start through the first 10 games in the last decade. That mark belongs to the 2012 squad who began the year 8-2. Last year, Capital won seven games through its first 10 of the season.
The Purple and White have a busy week ahead of them. They return to Ohio and will play at The College of Wooster on Tuesday, March 7 at 2 p.m. It will be the first of two meetings between the Fighting Scots and Crusaders that week. They will also play at Ohio Wesleyan University on March 8 to break up the series against Wooster.