Finishing off its trip to Arizona with an 11-10 victory in 10 innings against Swarthmore in the title game of the Desert Classic Fri., March 12, the Cardinals are 8-0 and off to the best start since the 1988 squad won its opening 13 games.
Earlier, Wesleyan took a double-header from Swarthmore Wed., March 10 by scores of 18-9 and 7-4, and added a twin-killing against Presentation Thurs., March 11, 4-1 and 7-4, to clinch a spot in the championship contest. Wesleyan began the western swing by sweeping Pitt-Bradford before taking a single game from Presentation.
In the title matchup, Wesleyan and Swarthmore entered the 8th inning deadlocked at 5-5. The Garnet struck for four runs in the top of the frame for a 9-5 advantage. Wesleyan responded with four runs of its own, the final two driven in by Dave Skura '12 (photo insert lower left) with a single. Heading into extra innings, Swarthmore again moved ahead 10-9 with an unearned run. Derek Lukin '13 pitched his way out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation with no further damage. Wesleyan then loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 10th on a Julian Sonnenfeld '11 (#12, main photo) walk, a single by Derek Dettorre '11 and a walk to Brice Kelly '10. Skura then hit a grounder to second for a fielder's choice out as Sonnenfeld scored the tying run. After a walk to Jeff Bizinkauskas '10 to reload the bases, Swarthmore uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Dettorre to hit the plate with the winning run.
In the first three games of 2010, Wesleyan enjoyed an inning that produced at least six runs and game four was no exception. Erupting for nine runs in the 3rd inning, Wesleyan gave starter Dan Thomsen '12 a hefty 11-0 lead en route to his first career victory. Glenn Stowell '13 pitched the final three innings to record a save. The Cardinals banged out 15 hits, three of them by Sonnenfeld as he smacked a three-run homer to ignite the nine-run outburst and added a pair of RBI doubles as well. Sonnenfeld has hit safely in all eight games thus far with 14 hits for a team-best .484 batting average. He already has eight doubles and four homers, giving him a 1.129 slugging percentage, to go along with 18 RBI. Six Cardinals had a multiple-hit game in the first game vs. Swarthmore.
The Cardinals had to rally from a 3-1 deficit in the 4th inning of the nightcap to come away with the win. The big blow came from Skura (.471 average), who launched a three-run blast in the 5th that spotted the Cardinals a 5-3 advantage. Starter James Hounsell '11 held a 7-4 lead before departing in the 7th and Michael Cifuentes '10 allowed two runners to reach base before a great running catch in right field by Kelly ended the threat and the game. Skura, one of four Cardinals with double-digit at-bats and a .450-plus batting average to show for it, has a slugging percentage of 1.000. Through eight games, Wesleyan is hitting .391 as a team and slugging at a .609 clip.
Conquering Presentation in a double-header, the Cardinals got complete games from Mike Barsotti '12 and Brett Yarusi '12. Barsotti had an impressive four-hitter with 12 strikeouts in the opener. Wesleyan took the lead for good in the 4th on a sacrifice fly by Tom Miceli '12, 2-1. A Kelly home run in the 6th and a Sonnenfeld RBI double in the 7th padded the lead.
The second game featured a two-run home run by Sonnenfeld to spot the Cardinals a 2-0 lead in the 1st. Dettorre (.462 average) triggered a three-run 2nd with a two-run single as Wesleyan moved ahead 5-1, Presentation got as close as 6-4 in the 5th, and got the tying run to the plate in the 7th with two outs, but Yarusi nailed down the win by inducing the final out on a grounder to second.
The Cardinals move on for the California portion of their excursion, taking on La Sierra in a double-header to start things off Tues., March 16.