by Nate Rawlings
After a six game winning streak, the DeSales University Bulldogs (7-6) have begun to cool off. The Bulldogs suffered their first home loss on Wednesday at the hands of the Neumann University Knights (14-3) by a score of 5-2.
Freshman Jonathan Bujtas (1-0) pitched six strong for the Bulldogs, yielding just 6 hits and 2 earned runs to the visiting Knights, while striking out a season high 6 batters and issuing 3 walks in the process.
Taking the loss for the Bulldogs was Freshman Eric Elmer (1-1), who allowed 1 earned run during his 2/3 innings pitched.
The offense was led by Junior Brian Mauro (1/3, BB, R), who extended his team high hitting streak to 8 games, with a single in the bottom of the third. Also contributing on offense were Seniors Kenny Ridge (1/3, HBP, 2 RBI’s), Jason Hadinger (1/4), and Juniors Justin Scerbo (1/4) and Derek Chrismer (1/3, BB).
The Bulldogs got off to a good start, as they took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third off of an RBI double by Ridge that scored Mauro. That lead was short lived, as the Knights countered with a run of their own in the top of the fourth, capitalizing off of an uncharacteristic wild pitch by Bujtas that gave them a runner in scoring position with only 1 out.
However, the Bulldogs regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth, with an RBI groundout by Ridge, who accounted for all of the Bulldog’s offense with his 2 RBI’s.
The Bulldogs seemed poised to continue their undefeated stretch at home, but that all changed in the top of the seventh, when a high pitch count forced head coach Timothy Neiman to pull Bujtas and go to his bullpen. Freshman Buddy Elgin lead off the frame for the Knights, reaching first base on a costly error by the Bulldogs. After moving to second on a sacrifice bunt, Elgin scored on a game tying triple by the Knight’s leadoff hitter, Junior Will Flores.
The Knights would go on to take the lead with a single by Junior Bill Pace, which proved to be the game winner.
After yielding another RBI single later in the frame, Elmer was replaced by fellow freshman Trevor Connors, who surrendered a hit of his own before ending the threat with a strikeout.
Getting the win for the Knights was Junior JJ Sims (1-0), while fellow Junior Erik Klimoff got the save.
At the end of the day, it was a story of missed chances and failed opportunities for the Bulldogs, who only managed to plate 2 runs in spite of having 12 men reach base. Their best chance came in the bottom of the fifth, when the bulldogs managed to load the bases with no outs before Ridge’s RBI groundout.
The Bulldogs will be looking to turn things around as they hit the road Thursday to take on the Aggies (7-5) of Delaware Valley College, in a Freedom Conference matchup scheduled to begin at 3:30 in the afternoon. Both teams will then travel back to Center Valley to finish off their 3-game series with a double header on Saturday at noon.