by Santino Torres / Staff Reporter
On a drama-filled Saturday afternoon in Crestwood, Illinois, a team effort led by Jordan Coakley’s timely hitting was capped off with Dom Lentini’s two-out double that sealed the first game of a doubleheader against Concordia University (Michigan) in walk-off fashion.
Concordia had scored two runs in the top half of the inning to take a 9-7 lead when Roosevelt baseball’s sophomore from Plainfield South drove in the game-winning run in the bottom half, giving Roosevelt the victory over the Cardinals, 10-9.
In the first game, Roosevelt got on the board right out of the gate, with Jordan Coakley driving in the first of his three RBIs in the first inning.
Then the Cardinals exploded for four runs in the top of the third. The onslaught put the Lakers down 4-1, a lead they didn’t cut into until the next inning. After getting one run back in the fourth inning, the Lakers offense would score five runs in the following inning. The stellar performance for the Laker offense was largely spearheaded by Joey Fox and Jordan Coakley, who both had three-hit games and drove in four of the team’s runs, with Fox also accounting for two runs himself.
“Personally, I just want to make the guys around me better,” said Coakley, a senior double major in finance and management. “That means doing my job at the plate every at-bat and continuing to grow my leadership skills both on and off the field. Every practice is a chance to get better as a baseball player and I think it’s important to put effort into every rep.”
Concordia’s Victor Diaz made a statement shot in the sixth inning. His three-run homer would tie the game with one out left in the inning and send the game into extra innings. Diaz finished the first game with three hits, driving in five runs and recording a stolen base.
Not a single run would cross the plate again until the tenth inning, when Concordia became the first team to strike in extras, putting two runs on the board for a 9-7 lead heading into the bottom half of the inning.
A Lou Reynolds double in the bottom half of the tenth inning drove Kerry Reese home after he led off the inning with a walk. One out later, Reynolds scored when Connor Graefen drove him in with a single. Graefen advanced to second when Matt Marrera walked and was forced out when Fox grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out. Marrera also had a three-hit game and scored two Laker runs, proving once again the importance of production at the leadoff spot as a contribution to the success of the team.
“Marrera is an on-base machine and when he gets on base, his speed makes him a dangerous scoring threat,” Coakley said. “His job is to get on base and then it’s the job of the middle of the order guys like Dom, Kerry and me to knock him in.”
“It is huge getting Matt Marrera back for another year,” said Lakers senior pitcher Matt Garbacz, marketing and management major.
“He is an effective leadoff hitter who knows how to get on base and put pressure on the pitcher while he is on the bases. Matt also brings four years of experience with him and has had a leadership role on this team,” Garbacz added.
Enter Lentini. Down to the last out, Lentini launched a base hit that sailed over the outfield and drove Marrera in to win the game for the Lakers. Lentini came into the at-bat having already accounted for two of the Lakers’ nine runs and then used his second hit of the game to collect two bags and drive in the tenth and final run to win the game.
“He’s a great athlete. He was a quarterback in high school, so he’s a really good athlete,” said Roosevelt baseball head coach Steve Marchi. “He learned from a kid that played centerfield for us, who was one of the best players we ever had. He got to watch him play every day and learned a lot from him. His big thing is he keeps working. He understands how to hit, how each pitch changes an at-bat, and how every at-bat is a different situation. He doesn’t try to do too much. He’s going to be a great player.”
In the second game, Coakley continued his hot streak by driving in four runs on two hits. However, the Lakers saw a 6-3 lead evaporate with a fifth-inning explosion by the Cardinals, who took an 8-6 lead after scoring five runs, and never looked back. Victor Diaz once again came up big for Concordia, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs and another stolen base while scoring three runs himself, leading Concordia to an 11-6 victory over the Lakers as the two teams split the day’s doubleheader.
Altogether, Coakley amassed five hits total throughout the day, driving in a total of seven runs in this doubleheader contest against the Concordia Cardinals.