Baseball drops two to late Trinity comebacks

By Joe Katz

The hits still aren’t coming for Maroons baseball.

Chicago (4-9) plated just five runs over 15 innings in a Saturday doubleheader sweep by Trinity Christian (8-6) at J. Kyle Anderson Field. The Trolls won the opener 5-3, overcoming an 11-strikeout performance by fourth-year righty Dan Harrington, and broke open the second game in the late innings for an 8-2 victory.

The Maroons have now lost six straight, and have averaged just two runs and six hits a game over that span. The team left 14 men on base against Trinity.

“We hit a few balls hard, but as a team we still struggled at the plate,” said fourth-year first baseman Justin Garrett, who is batting .292 with four doubles and nine RBI. “We couldn’t get the big hits that produce the big innings and momentum that we need to win games.”

“We know we have the bats to score runs,” Garrett said. “We just need to get going at the same time.”

The Trolls came up big in the last two innings in both games, scoring three runs in the final frames in the first showdown and knocking in all eight with less than six outs to go in the second. The Maroons held narrow one-run leads in both match-ups up to that point.

The pitching staff—expected to be the Maroons biggest asset this year after being secondary to hitting the last three—kept Chicago in both games to the end. Harrington was tagged with four of five runs and the loss in the opener, and fellow fourth-year righty Matt Altomare was charged with all eight in seven innings in the twilight game. Harrington kept batters off-balanced all game with his overpowering repertoire, and Altomare’s effective mix of fastballs and changeups had held Trinity to just one hit in the first five frames.

“We have a great, experienced pitching staff. On Saturday, a few of our guys just ran out of gas in the field,” Garrett said. “That is going to happen, even to our experienced pitchers, and we aren’t worried about it. We need to score the runs that they deserve, so that they are not in those tough situations in the first place.”

Hitting fourth, Garrett went two for seven with two runs batted in on the day. He was aided by some strong performances at the top of the lineup, as fourth-year leadoff hitter and third baseman/catcher T.J. Rajcevich went two for three with two walks, a run, and an RBI in the first game, and third-year designated hitter Ryan Denton went four for eight with two runs and RBI on the day from the two spot.

Perhaps most encouraging for the Maroons, the defensive woes that have plagued the team in the early going may be lifting. The team gave up only one unearned run on one error over the two games, giving the team only one blunder since returning from Florida. The infield has been particularly consistent.

“Defense and pitching are the strengths that will carry us through this year, and the past few games have been an example of what we are capable of in the field.” Garrett said. “The next step is to capitalize on the momentum that we gain in the field and score some runs for our staff.”

Sunday’s scheduled double-header at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (4-14) was rescheduled due to field conditions, and will be played April 24th. The team travels to Robert Morris (5-3) tomorrow afternoon.