OZARK, Mo. – Facing elimination for the third time over the course of two days, the Raven Baseball gave up four runs over the first two innings against Central Methodist (42-14) in the fourth game of the 2017 Heart Baseball Championship.
Benedictine (35-22) rallied late but couldn't answer the quick start by the Eagles as CMU held on for a 7-5 win to end the Ravens' season two games shy of an automatic berth in the NAIA playoffs.
CMU scored two runs in the first off two hits and two errors by Benedictine. The Ravens answered those two runs with two of their own after Rocky DeSantis connected on a two-run home run in the bottom half of the inning.
The Eagles scored two more in the second off three hits to chase Raven starting pitcher Ben Costello.
CMU starting pitcher Chris Danielson shutdown the Ravens at the plate from that point. He scattered three more runs over eight innings with five scoreless innings to earn the win. Benedictine was able to pick up 10 hits off Danielson but couldn't capitalize as they stranded 10 runners in base.
The Ravens scored a run each in the fourth, eighth and ninth inning as they tried to rally against the Eagles. After reaching a bunt single, DeSantis scored after the first error of the game by the Eagles in the fourth. Jacob Kirmer, pinch-hitting in the eighth inning, singled in Austin Watamaniuk in the eighth and then Daryl Myers scored the Ravens final run of the game in the ninth on a sacrifice fly from Logan Finley.
Costello suffered the loss, giving up two earned runs off five hits over one and two-thirds. Kamden Miller was the first reliever on the hill for head coach Anthony Everman and shutout the Eagles over three and two-thirds innings before he was relieved. Alex Pogasic, Michael Kruse and Connor Leach finished the game in relief.
Offensively, DeSantis, Myers, Elliott and Reid Fritzke finished with two hits each as Fritzke added a double to DeSantis' two-run home run. DeSantis finished with two RBIs while Kirmer and Finley added one each.
The 35-win season marks the highest win total for the program since the 37-win 2006 season.