O’Connor’s gem highlights weekend splits

Chicago (18–11) ended last week on a sour note after a walk-off loss to Elmhurst (16–16) that was highlighted by some sloppy fielding and shaky pitching for the Maroons.

By Russell Mendelson

After a long weekend of play, the Maroons came out even, splitting two doubleheaders against Wash U.

Chicago (18–11) ended last week on a sour note after a walk-off loss to Elmhurst (16–16) that was highlighted by some sloppy fielding and shaky pitching for the Maroons. That was not the case this weekend, however, as the South Siders committed only three errors in their four games.

Maroon pitching was able to stifle Wash U’s (22–14) hitters for the most part this weekend. Chicago kept scoring low on Saturday in a 4–1 win and a 3–0 loss, but hit a minor road bump on Sunday, losing 10–5 before rallying back with a 2–1 victory in the second game.

Fourth-year right-hander Matt O’Connor pitched masterfully in the first game, going the distance. He allowed five hits and an unearned run, while striking out four and walking only one batter.

“I was able to work low in the zone, inside and outside, and to stay ahead of the count, which allowed my off-speed stuff to be effective,” O’Connor said.

“My catcher, [fourth-year] Tony Logli, called a great game behind the plate as usual, which helped to keep hitters off balance. We had a great day on defense all around. My infield made some tough plays to keep runners of the bases. It always helps to know that your team is going to make plays behind you.”

The scoring opened up in the third for Chicago as three runs came across in the inning, all unearned.

Third-year outfielder Ben Bullock reached second on a throwing error to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by fourth-year infielder Steven Schwabe. Bullock scored on a groundout from fourth-year outfielder Jack Cinoman. The final two runs of the inning came on RBI hits by fourth-year infielder J.R. Lopez and third-year outfielder Brett Huff. Cinoman collected the final RBI for Chicago with a triple in the fourth, plating Schwabe.

In Saturday’s second game, Wash U starter Dom Quaranta shut out the Maroons, en route to earning his sixth win of the year. Lopez added another double to his collection in the fifth for Chicago’s only extra-base hit of the game.

“You have to give credit to the opposing pitcher,” O’Connor said. “I thought that he threw a great game as well. We also had a lot of hard hit balls that just didn’t find holes, but that’s just how the game is.”

Sunday’s first game did not fit the weekend’s low scoring trend as Wash U hit its way to a 10–5 win. Third-year Alex Terry took the loss for Chicago, surrendering six runs in two innings to the Bears.

Chicago capped off the weekend with a hard earned 2-1 victory.

First-year Lucas Friss impressed while allowing one run on six hits in five innings of work.

“To be a first-year and pitch in a game on such a high stage was very impressive. It’s a sign of good things to come from him,” said Cinoman.

Chicago scraped together two runs in the game, scoring its first on an RBI single by Cinoman in the first. The second run came in the bottom of the sixth. Lopez reached first on a throwing error and took second on Huff’s sacrifice-bunt. Lopez then took third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch, putting Chicago ahead for good. Third-year pitcher Will Katzka closed out the game with two scoreless innings of relief.

“Katzka did a great job closing out the final game. He came into a tough situation and got out of the jam giving us a chance to win the ball game,” Cinoman said.

The Maroons hit the road today for their third doubleheader in a row against North Central and travel to Wheaton, Il on Wednesday to face the Thunder. The first game against North Central is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. and the second is slated for 6 p.m.