St. Francis starting pitcher A.J. Berglund was chased after one-and-two-thirds innings, allowing two runs and three hits but walking eight Loyola batters, including five bases on balls in the first six at-bats of the second inning. Relief pitcher Trevor DeVore, who took the mound in relief with two outs but with the bases loaded, got out of a jam when the only batter he faced that inning hit a fly ball to center field.
Despite the eight walks early on, St. Francis only trailed 2-0 entering the third inning.
It was in that third inning when the Golden Knights appeared to shift the momentum in their favor when senior team co-captain Nick Gentili hit a lead-off single.
After Mark Saatzer followed with another single and DeVore advanced both runners with a well-placed sacrifice bunt, senior co-captain Karch Schreiner hit a single into right field to drive in two runs and tie the game at 2-2.
However, DeVore allowed three more runs in the Cubs’ half of the third, when Jack Lombardi’s single drove in Kevin Grove, followed by a Michael Arias single that drove in Lombardi and Xavier Borde to extend the Cubs’ lead to 5-2.
The Knights pulled a little closer in the fourth inning, when senior co-captain Scottie Morrow blasted a solo home run to right center field on a 3-and-2 count with one out, cutting the Loyola lead to 5-3. However, St. Francis would not threaten again, collecting only two more hits in the final three innings.
Loyola added one more run in the fourth before Grove connected on a two-run home run, his sixth of the year, in the fifth inning to round out the final score.
Pitcher Spencer Jack went the distance for Loyola, striking out three and allowing just one walk and three earned runs on 11 hits.
Sophomore James Bonds had one run batted in and connected on all three at bats for St. Francis, while both Saatzer and Jeff Johnson contributed with two hits each. Morrow’s home run, his third of the year, was his only hit of the game.
“We’re getting some hits,” Esquival later told the Valley Sun. “But it’s tough when you are down a couple runs and you come back, get a run or two, then the defense goes back out there and the pitcher walks two or three and give up another two runs.
“It’s tough to maintain any momentum when, as a pitching staff, you are giving up all these runs.”
Both teams meet again on Friday at Brookside Park.