Fourth Inning Rally Not Enough as Baseball Drops Opener
West Palm Beach, FL. – The Wheeling University Baseball team (0-1, 0-0) went down to the sunshine state on Thursday to kick off the 2022 season. After falling behind early, the Cardinals rallied for four fourth-inning runs, but it wasn't enough as they fell to Palm Beach Atlantic 12-7. Three Cardinals had multi-hit games and the offense had nine hits, but the Cardinals couldn't hold off the high-powered Sailfish offense.
The Cardinals went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning before Palm Beach Atlantic got the offense going. They scored six runs in the bottom of the first on five hits highlighted by a three-RBI double from Nick Housen. The Cardinals would be forced to play catch up the rest of the night, but the offense would continue to battle throughout the night. They would answer back with their first run of the game in the top of the second with two outs. Blake Vandiver drew a two-out walk before Lucas Rawlins lined a ball to centerfield that got past the centerfielder. Vandiver came all the way around from first to score and made the score 6-1 in favor of the Sailfish.
That score would stand until the Cardinals offense had their first breakthrough in the top of the fourth. J.R. Heavilin reached base to start the inning but was picked off for the first out. Chris Iazzetta would follow with a walk, and advanced to second before a Vandiver flyout left the Cardinals with a runner in scoring position and two outs. Rawlins would come through once again for the Cardinals with an RBI single that scored Vandiver and made it a 6-2 game. Back-to-back walks would load the bases for the Cardinals and bring senior Jack Skantze to the plate. Skantze would clear the bases with a double to get the Cardinals within one run bringing the score to 6-5.
However, the Sailfish would add another run in the bottom of the fourth, and add on five more in the bottom of the fifth to bring the score to 12-5. The Cardinals were held off the board for the next two innings until the top of the seventh. With two RBI already under his belt, Rawlins once again came to the plate with a runner in scoring position and two outs. He came through once again with his second hit of the day, an RBI single to right scoring Heavilin and bringing the score to 12-6. The Cardinal's final run would come in the top of the ninth in their last at-bats. Heavilin popped out to start the inning before a Chris Iazzetta triple gave the Cardinals another runner in scoring position. Vandiver would reach on an error bringing in Iazzetta and bringing the game to its final score of 12-7.
Rawlins and Skantze led the offense with three RBI apiece while Skantze went 2-4 and Rawlins finished 2-5 at the plate. Iazzetta was the other Cardinal to finish with a multi-hit game going 2-3 with the team's only triple. Overall, it was a very strong day for the Cardinals as they pounded out six hits while driving in seven runs. However, they were hurt by leaving 11 runners on base compared to just three left on base for Palm Beach Atlantic. They showed good plate discipline, drawing nine walks as a team, but struck out 12 times in the game.
On the mound, four Cardinal starters combined to allow 12 runs on 10 hits while walking two and striking out eight. Senior Jake Rife got the start and threw 1.0 inning allowing six earned runs on five hits while striking out two as he was handed his first loss of the season. Junior Paul Tripi followed and threw 3.0 innings allowing three runs, two earned while walking one and striking out two. However, the biggest performance came from junior Dominic Parker-McDonald, who threw the final three innings of the game. He held the Sailfish off the board over his three innings, while allowing just one base runner via a walk. He struck out three and walked one as he started his season off strong.
The Wheeling University Baseball team returns to action on Friday when they head to Boca Raton, Florida to face Lynn University. You can watch the game live by clicking HERE or follow along with Live Stats by clicking HERE.