Second-year pitcher Marshall Oium knows firsthand how baseball got more than another tally in the win column out of last Wednesday’s walk-off victory over Rose Hulman.
“I think that it proved to our team that we will always have a chance to win the game in the last inning if we keep the game within reach,” Oium said.
The Maroons tested that theory and tempted fate once again Friday afternoon at North Central, and, once again, last-inning heroics helped Chicago sneak out with a win.
In the top of the ninth inning of a back-and-forth affair, Chicago capitalized on a North Central error to put four runs on the board and seal its third consecutive victory, 13–10.
“I thought the team played well overall, and coming back to take the lead in the ninth inning shows how important winning is to this team,” said Oium, who picked up the win.
The second-year hurler entered in relief and pitched a scoreless seventh inning, but North Central came back in the eighth inning, scoring three runs to take a 10–9 lead.
After Wednesday’s comeback, though, the Maroons knew anything was possible in the top of the ninth. With one out and two on, fourth-year first baseman Scott Hofer hit a grounder that wound up being much more than just another fielder’s choice.
“Before I was even a step out of the batter’s box, I saw that the ball popped out of his glove,” Hofer said. “I thought that he would still be able to make the play, however, so I did my best to hustle down to first.”
The error by third baseman Nick Robinson allowed two runs to score, giving the Maroons the lead for good. As insurance, first-year designated hitter Trace Capps—last Wednesday’s hero—came through with a two-run double to make it 13–10.
Oium then returned to the mound to pitch a scoreless ninth, giving Chicago its third straight win. The Maroons had yet to win three in a row this season.
“After allowing North Central to come back and take the lead in the eighth inning, I was just focusing on coming out in the ninth inning and shutting them down and getting us the key win that we needed,” Oium said. “When we scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning I had to remind myself to pitch with the same intensity that I would if we had only scored two runs.”
The result was a relief after a game in which no lead was ever safe.
North Central gifted Chicago with an early advantage, as three walks helped the Maroons plate a pair of runs in the opening frame. The Cardinals responded in the bottom of the inning, with second baseman Joe Heller hitting a three-run triple en route to a four-run inning for the hosts.
The Maroons struck back in the third inning, once again capitalizing on walks. This time, Capps singled in second-year left fielder Zach Osman, who had walked earlier in the inning, before third-year shortstop Rob Serpico’s walk drove in another run to knot the game at 4–4.
The Cardinals briefly snagged the lead with two runs in the fifth inning, but Chicago came back and scored three more a half-inning later on the strength of three more walks and a wild pitch.
North Central tied the game at seven with a run in the bottom half of the inning, but the Maroons once again responded in the seventh inning, knocking in another two runs—this time without any walks. Fourth-year center fielder Kyle Schmitt singled in a run to break the tie before Hofer’s double play chipped in another.
That set up designated Joe Turek’s two-run homer to tie the game before an error allowed the Cardinals to take the lead. But as happened over and over in Friday’s game, the lead didn’t last a full inning, and the Maroons pulled out the late-game magic for the second time in as many games.
Capps finished with three runs batted in, while Serpico and first-year third baseman Stephen Williams knocked in two apiece. On the afternoon, the Maroons drew 12 walks.
After being rained out on Sunday, the Maroons will take the field again at Elmhurst this afternoon.