Young Cardinal Mooney baseball team starting to find itself as tournament nears
By greg gulas
Cardinal Mooney baseball coach Al Franceschelli admits the Cardinals have struggled at times this season, yet have become a better team by playing strong opponents.
After stopping Columbiana, 12-2 in five innings Friday at Cene Park, Franceschelli feels the team is finally hitting its stride with tournament play on the horizon.
Drew DelSignore scored three times, knocked in three more, and fell a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. Drew Beck scored three runs, adding a triple and double, to pace the Cardinals’ nine-hit attack.
“We graduated an excellent senior class and while we are a young team, we do have strong senior leadership and a nice group of underclassmen that are starting to come together,” Franceschelli said.
Two five-run innings by the Cardinals (7-7) was too much for Columbiana (5-11) to overcome. Cardinal Mooney won its second straight outing and the Clippers lost its third straight.
“Everyone in the lineup was solid today and this win was a total team effort,” said DelSignore.
Franceschelli, in his sixth year as the Cardinals’ coach, called DelSignore the most complete signal-caller that he has coached.
“He is excellent defensively, is team-oriented and the bonus is that he hits the ball hard,” Franceschelli said.
A DelSignore triple, double by Beck and triple by Denver Martin was part of a four-hit first inning in which the Cardinals raced to a 5-0 advantage.
The Clippers got a run in their half of the second when Steve Slater led off with a single, advanced to second on an infield single by Devin Rice and came home on a throwing error.
Austin Barbato opened the Clippers’ third with a triple, scoring on a groundout by Bryce Franken to cut the Mooney lead to 5-2.
Two runs by the Cardinals in the third frame, keyed by Beck’s triple and a double by DelSignore, made it 7-2.
“I’m just a sophomore and just trying to fit in. Coach moved me up in the lineup from fifth to fourth and I feel more comfortable each time out,” Beck said.
The Cardinals added five runs in the fourth inning, getting two-run singles from DelSignore and Brandon Sklenar.
“Cardinal Mooney swung their bats really well tonight. They found the gaps when they needed to and that was the difference in the game,” Clippers coach Scott Knox said.
“Our pitcher, Hank Schlueter, didn’t have his best stuff.
“We did play better defensively, however, and that is an area where we have been struggling of late,” Knox added.
Cardinals starter Joe Cunningham (1-2) picked up his first win of the season.