FAYETTEVILLE – Junior DJ Baxendale struck out eight in 4.2 innings, while senior Bo Bigham hit a solo homer and scored two runs to lead the Cardinal to an 8-2 win over White in the opening game of the Cardinal-White series on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
The series continues on Sunday with game two of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sophomore right hander Brandon Moore will start for Cardinal, while junior southpaw Randall Fant will get the start for White.
Baxendale earned the win in relief for Cardinal. The junior right hander struck out eight and gave up just one unearned run on one hit in 4.2 innings. Sophomore Ryne Stanek suffered the loss out of the bullpen, giving up four runs, three earned, on three hits in 2.1 innings.
The game featured two freshman starting pitchers, with both players turning in solid performances. Chris Oliver started for White and pitched five innings, striking out six and giving up just one run on one hit. Mark Reyes started for Cardinal and surrendered just one unearned run, while striking out four in four innings of action.
Freshman David Masters drove in a game-high two runs and went 1-for-2 for the Cardinal offense. Redshirt senior Tim Carver had two hits and a RBI, while Bigham hit a solo homer and finished the game 1-for-4 with two runs scored.
Junior Matt Reynolds had two hits and scored a run to lead the White team offensively. Junior Derrick Bleeker had a RBI and went 1-for-4 for White.
After a quiet first three innings, the White team drew first blood with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Freshman Brian Anderson reached on a fielding error to start the inning and came around to score on a one-out double to center field by Bleeker.
The Cardinal team answered back with a run in the top of the fifth. Junior Matt Vinson drew a leadoff walk and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Masters. With two out, Carver came through with a RBI single into left field, scoring Vinson to tie the game at one.
Cardinal took its first lead of the game in the top of the seventh. Senior Sam Bates started the inning by reaching on a two-base fielding error by the left fielder. After a strikeout by redshirt sophomore Jacob Morris, Bates advanced to third on a groundout to short by Vinson. A walk to Masters put runners at the corners with two out. Freshman John Clay Reeves hit an opposite field single into right field to bring home Bates and put Cardinal in front 2-1.
A four run top of the eighth for the Cardinal team broke the game open. Bigham opened the frame with a home run over the left field wall to make the score 3-1. With one out, junior Dane Phillips singled to left center and then moved to second on a wild pitch. An intentional walk to Bates put runners on first and second. Morris drove in Phillips with a single to left field for Cardinal’s fourth run of the game. A perfectly executed double steal moved Bates to third and Morris to second. With two out, Masters cleared the bases with a double down the left field line, scoring Bates and Morris to extend the lead to 6-1.
White trimmed the lead to four with a run in the bottom of the eighth. Reynolds singled to center field to start the inning and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. With one out, Anderson hit a ground ball to Masters at third. His throw across the diamond was high, allowing Reynolds to score from second on the play.
Cardinal closed the scoring with two runs in the top of the ninth. With one out, Bigham was hit by a pitch and came around to score on a double to center field by sophomore Dominic Ficociello. Ficociello advanced to third when Reynolds’ throw to the plate to try to retire Bigham was high. Ficociello crossed home plate on a two-out wild pitch to make the final score 8-2.