By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Capital University Baseball opened the 2018 campaign with two games at Chain of the Lakes Park Stadium to kick off its stay at the RussMatt Invitational. Capital fell in its first contest but then rallied with a strong offensive output in a victory over Grove City College (Pa.) to exit day one, 1-1.
GAME ONE - Capital 1, Augustana (Ill.) 10
The Crusaders served as the visiting team in its season opener with Augustana College (Ill.) at Chain of the Lakes Park Stadium. Two four-run innings at both ends of the nine-inning contest propelled the Vikings to a 10-1 win over Capital.
The Vikings loaded the bases in the bottom of the third inning before Tyler Nunez plated two runs against Joseph Borkey and the Crusaders to take an early lead. Two more base hits in the inning doubled up Augustana's lead.
Through the first four innings, Capital had just four base runners and only one of those came by way of a base hit. Augustana starting pitcher Mike Powers stranded all four runners and then exited a jam with minimal damage in the fifth inning. Zackary Ary's one-out single resulted in a run when he later scored on an Augustana error. It served as Capital's only offense after the lineup was limited to four hits.
The Vikings tagged on one run in the seventh and put forth a four-run frame in the eighth to account for their 10 runs on as many hits and one Capital error. Borkey (L, 0-1) took the loss after throwing six innings and surrendering five runs, three earned, on six hits. He struck out four and walked four batters.
Freshman Connor Richardson (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg-Summit) recorded his first collegiate base hit in his debut.
GAME TWO - Grove City (Pa.) 3, Capital 9
Game two served as a bit of redemption to salvage Opening Day after the Crusaders took it to the Wolverines of Grove City College (Pa.), 9-3.
Capital rattled off a four-run inning in the first to support starting pitcher Patrick Avellano (Alpharetta, Ga./Alpharetta). Connor Hopkins started a run of five straight Capital hits with a single. Connor Richardson, Tyler Osborne and Shayne Lyons all followed suit. Lyons' bases loaded single scored Hopkins and set up Joe Caporale's RBI base hit to double up the score. Osborne came around to score on a fielder's choice prior to Drew Ellis' first collegiate hit plated Cap's fourth run of the frame.
Capital's next three runs all were unearned, but Travis Gilbert was credited with a two-RBI single that extended Capital's lead to 7-0 by the end of the fourth. Senior Alexander Smith (Elk Grove, Calif./Cosumnes Oaks) drove home a Capital run in the fifth with a sharp groundout to the left side and then scored for the second time in the game via Hopkins' run-scoring double in the eighth.
While the offense did a job against the Grove City pitching staff, Avellano (W, 1-0) rolled through the Wolverines' lineup with seven shutout innings on the hill. Avellano surrendered just four hits and struck out five batters en route to the win, the third of his career and fifth since 2016.