GIBSONBURG — After losing its third straight game Tuesday versus Northwood, the Cardinal Stritch baseball team had a little post-game chat with coach Craig Meinzer.
The subject was something Meinzer labeled “dysfunctionality,” and he wanted his Cardinals to get rid of it in a hurry.
Thanks to strong pitching from Chase Dearing and a nine-hit attack, the Cardinals functioned pretty well on Thursday in a 5-0 Toledo Area Athletic Conference road victory.
“We weren’t mentally prepared, and we weren’t competing,” Meinzer said of his team’s losing streak. “We had a big talk the other day, and I think the kids really rallied around that. They got the message, and they played a lot better today as a team.”
Dearing (2-1) struck out seven batters and allowed just four hits in six innings before exiting, having thrown 63 of his 103 pitches for strikes. Austin Pratt worked a scoreless seventh to close out the win for preseason TAAC favorite Stritch (7-3, 3-1).
“Normally when I go longer into a game I start to settle in, but I happened to get going right away early, and all my pitches were working today,” Dearing said. “That really helped me out.
“When we got a few runs that was great. That really helps a pitcher out. When you’re up it’s easier because you don’t worry as much when men get on base.”
The Golden Bears (14-2, 3-2) committed three errors.
“Chase did a real nice job for us today,” Meinzer said, “and he’s capable of pitching like that all the time.”
Stritch was kept in check for three innings by Bears starting pitcher Bryce Ernsthausen, who had fanned six batters and allowed just one hit entering the fourth.
That’s when the Cards broke through.
Jake Empie (2 for 4) and Jude Neary (3 for 4) opened the fourth with singles, with Neary’s on a bunt that sent Empie to third. Brooks Gasser followed with a successful squeeze bunt to plate Empie. Neary later scored on a two-out single by Dearing (2 for 3).
Stritch added a run in the fifth while chasing Ernsthausen.
Grant Curavo reached on an error, stole second, then scored on Empie’s single to center.
The Cardinals added two insurance runs in the sixth off of Bears reliever Andrew Dellinger.
Pratt hit a one-out double to left and advanced on Dearing’s infield single. Adam Buenrostro followed with an RBI single to left, and Curavo added a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0.
“Dearing was keeping us off-balance,” Gibsonburg coach Kyle Rase said. “We had a lot of early strikeouts when we needed to put the ball in play. He did a great job, and that set the tone for them for the game.
“They’re well coached and fundamentally sound, and they put us in some bad situations today. We just didn’t make the plays to win. It wasn’t our day.”