By Greg Gulas
The Ursuline Fighting Irish have been looking for a timely hit all season.
Junior Joel Hake, making his first start at shortstop since suffering a back injury earlier in the year, made sure he provided it upon his return.
Hake’s single with one out in the top of the seventh inning scored Zach Patton and the Fighting Irish later tacked on an insurance run as Ursuline defeated arch-rival Cardinal Mooney, 6-4, on Friday at Cene Park.
The Cardinals came in 10-0.
Hake, who suffered a stress fracture of his L-5 vertebrae and was relegated to a just a couple of relief appearances, was happy to provide the much-needed spark.
“Coach [Sean] Durkin took me aside prior to the game and told me to go out and have some fun. I just wanted to do my best, especially against an excellent Cardinal Mooney team,” Hake said. “Whenever these two teams get together you can just throw our records out, so to give them their first loss and gather some momentum heading to tournament play is really a special night.”
The Cardinals (10-1), who have flourished because of timely hitting, fell for the first time this season.
Ursuline (5-9) took a 3-0 lead in the first inning when Dion Felger’s single plated Hake with the game’s first run. The Fighting Irish added two more on Logan Pullin’s two-out double.
Felger, who scattered six hits en route to his second complete game, had a hit, scored a run, knocked in two runs and retired 19 of the final 23 batters he faced.
“After the first inning I was able to settle down and everything just started to work for me. I relied on my slider more tonight than in my previous outings,” he said. “This is a huge win because we can now build off this and get ready for the tournament.”
It didn’t take the Cardinals long to draw even, plating three runs in their half of the inning with the aid of an Irish fielding error and two-run single by Harrison Wagner.
Cardinal Mooney took a 4-3 lead in the second when Trent Humphries opened the inning with a double and scored on a groundout by lead-off batter Gino DiVincenzo.
The Fighting Irish tied it in the fourth inning when Tannor Berry led off with their third double of the night, then raced home on Drew Potesta’s fielder’s choice to forge a 4-all deadlock.
The game remained tied until Hake’s seventh-inning single.
“We’ve been in every game and had a chance to win, but couldn’t get that big swing until tonight. This win is a momentum builder for us,” Durkin said. “Dion had a phenomenal outing and really could have thrown a shutout with a few breaks. He will be tough to beat. Also, Joel proved to be the spark that we so desperately needed.”
Cardinals coach Al Franceschelli noted that his pitcher, Joe Cunningham, and Felger were both excellent on the hill.
“Both pitchers threw exceptionally well tonight. Dion was tremendous in that he kept us off-balance while Joe had great breaking stuff,” Franceschelli said. “It took Joe a few innings to get loose and at 110 pitches we shut him down, but he got stronger as the game went on. When you are rained out 11 times like we’ve been, that’s not good for your starting pitching.”
Cunningham fell to 2-1.
Ursuline ended a three-game losing streak.