by Luke Stanczyk
On their annual season kick-off trip to the Gateway City, the Benedictine baseball team went 2-1, sweeping a doubleheader against Millikin University on Saturday and dropping a game to Fontbonne University on Sunday.
In the first game of Saturday’s double header, the Eagles defeated the Big Blue of Millikin 13-5. Senior Dan Zust started his first game in center field in his BenU career and saw no ill effects of the position change by going 5-for-5.
Also, three transfers made immediate impacts in their first game. Junior third baseman Steve Cocat drove in a team-high four runs, junior right fielder John Cervantes went 2-for-2 with a team high four runs scored, and sophomore first baseman Ryan Mullin went 3-for-4 with three RBI, including a two-run home run in the fifth inning to give BenU a 7-1 lead.
On the mound, senior Mark Belcastro got the start and held Millikin to just two runs in six innings, earning himself the win.
Game two was more of the game for the Eagles, as they cruised to a 12-1 victory. It was more of the same for Zust, going 4-for-5 in the leadoff spot. All in all, Zust had four stolen bases and five doubles on the trip.
When asked about the difficulty of transitioning to the leadoff spot in the order and the center field position, Zust was not concerned.
“No, not at all,” Zust said about the changes. “I leadoff in summers, so it was not too much of a change. I will put the ball in play, and if I get on-base, I’m going to be aggressive. I had a lot of putouts and made some nice plays [defensively].”
Also in game two, junior shortstop Nick Karakosta had four hits and two RBI, and Mullin added two more hits to his total on the day. Junior Kevin Crowley got the win after pitching six shutout innings and striking out six.
Game three was different for the Eagles, as they fell behind early in an 8-2 loss to Fontbonne. Junior Matt Vucovich started on the mound, and junior Tim Gindville got a key hit in the game.
“We came with so much energy for the first double header, which was great because each of us used the energy in the field and at bat, but Sunday we lacked that energy and intensity,” Zust said. “It possibly slowed us down a bit, but we learned from the loss and will move forward.”
Next up for the Eagles is their annual trip to Florida, where they will play nine games in as many days. Their trip schedule features many teams that figure to be serious contenders in Division III baseball this season, such as St. Thomas, UW-Whitewater and UW- Stevens Point.