By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
AUBURNDALE, Fla. – Through the aid of a seven-run eighth inning, the Capital University baseball team came back from four runs down to claim its first victory of the 2019 season. The Crusaders defeated the Cardinals of Saint Mary's University (Minn.) on Thursday morning, 8-5.
Junior Beau Otto (Cincinnati, Ohio/Roger Bacon) started the Crusaders' comeback in the bottom of the eighth inning and later put the exclamation point on the end of it with a two-run base knock. Capital entered the inning down 5-1 before the Purple and White exploded for a seven-run frame behind six hits and two free passes.
The Crusaders loaded the bases with Otto's leadoff double, a hit batter and a single by junior Connor Richardson. With no outs on the board, the Cardinals went to the bullpen but the fire at the plate continued to burn. Junior Shayne Lyons (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) and sophomore Drew Ellis (Doylestown, Ohio/Chippewa) followed with back-to-back run-scoring singles to pull the Crusaders to within three runs.
Junior Ben Bethay drew a bases-loaded walk, which made it a 5-4 score before AJ Albanese tied the game with an RBI single. With the bases still loaded, Bryce Grisez hit a grounder to the right side that pushed a run home to give the Crusaders the lead and moved two runners in scoring position. Otto then returned to the plate for the second time in the inning and drove home two more runs after blasting another single, his third hit of the game.
Drew Ellis (S, 1) was then brought in to close the door on Saint Mary's in the top of the ninth. He surrendered a one-out single but then induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the game and earn his first collegiate save.
The final out also awarded freshman Jared Heidecker (Columbia Station, Ohio/Columbia Station) his first career win as he was the pitcher of record going into the Crusaders' explosive eighth inning. Heidecker (W, 1-0) tossed a scoreless and hitless eighth inning.
Senior Alex Mukensturm (Tecumseh, Mich./Tecumseh) struck out seven Cardinals in 4.1 innings of work and walked just two. Only one of the three runs he allowed was earned and he gave up just three hits.
Lyons and Otto each had three hits and two RBIs on the day to lead the Capital offense.
Capital (1-5) will close out its stay at the RussMatt Invitational on Friday, March 1, when it plays Louisiana College at 9 a.m. The game will be played at Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, Florida.