The Culver-Stockton College baseball team received a late wakeup call and it cost them in a 7-3 loss to top-seeded Clarke University Friday morning in the Heart of America Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament at US Baseball Park in Ozark, Mo.
The Crusaders, ranked sixth in the latest NAIA National Poll, jumped on Wildcat starter Miguel Vasquez for four runs in the top of the first inning. Clarke (43-10), which won the North Division with a 26-6 mark, plated its four runs on just two hits in the inning.
Vasquez walked two of the first three batters and then, after a groundout produced a run, gave up a three-run homer to Kevin Hunley. The big fly was Hunley's 15th of the season, which ranks second in the conference.
Vasquez settled down after the rocky first and held the Crusaders scoreless over the next three innings. However, a single and a triple produced a run in the fifth inning, and then a double and a single to start the sixth inning chased the senior hurler trailing 6-0.
Vasquez allowed nine hits in his five-plus innings of work before being replaced by Nathan Halliday. All six runs were earned and he walked five and struck out just two. Vasquez needed 101 pitches to clear five innings.
Halliday held Clarke scoreless on one hit over the next three innings before a two-out flare up in the ninth produced a run on two hits and a walk. Halliday scattered three hits, walked one and struck out two in his four innings.
Meanwhile, the Wildcat offense struggled early against Clarke starter Anthony Ruden. C-SC got a one-out single from Franklin Rojas in the first inning before Ruden retired the next nine batters in a row.
Jhonathan Mendoza singled with one out in the fourth inning to break the string and Kevin Cali was hit by a pitch to give the Wildcats their first scoring opportunity. However, Alex Satunas grounded into a double play to end the threat.
C-SC finally broke through in the seventh inning when Mendoza reached on a throwing error to begin the inning. Cali followed with a two-run homer, his third of the season, to bring the Wildcats to within 6-2.
After the Crusaders added a run in the ninth inning to up the lead back to five, the Wildcats plated a run in the bottom of the frame to account for the final score.
Mendoza led off the inning with a double, moved to third on a ground out by Cali and scored on a double by Satunas.
Mendoza finished the day 2-for-4 with two runs scored while Satunas was 2-for-4 with a RBI. Cali went 1-for-3 with his two-run home run.
The Wildcats (26-28) fall to the loser's bracket where they will face the loser of the Grand View (Iowa) and Peru State (Neb.) contest. That game is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 6.