Pitching on par as baseball splits pair: Sports Shorts 4/7/06

By Yuefan Weng

Baseball entered their mid-week doubleheader hoping to build their first win streak of the season on the shoulders of their ace. They got their wish, but not much more.

After showing signs of life in their Hyde Park debut weekend, the Maroons (5–10) split a twinbill at Rockford (7–14) Wednesday, taking the first game 7–2 before falling in the nightcap 3–1. Fourth-year righty Dan Yeksigian (4–0, 4.22) held the Regents at bay over seven solid innings to lead Chicago to victory in the first game. The rest of the rotation continued to be unable to catch a break as the Maroons dropped the back end. First-year righty Kyle Schmitt (0–2, 2.61) took the loss for the visitors, giving up three runs, two earned on six hits in 5.2 innings.

Back on the road after a three-game homestand, Chicago took control of the first game early against Rockford third-year righty C.J. Walleck (1–2). Playing in his first game since straining his quadriceps last Friday, first-year catcher Scott Hofer singled home second-year left fielder Mike Serio for the game’s first run. The road warriors got two more on a two-out RBI double from first-year right fielder Travis Blane. Hofer and Blane keyed the Maroons’ offensive attack for the game, combining to go 7-for-8 with two RBI apiece.

Their first frame production would be all Chicago would need as Yeksigian pitched a complete game for his 16th career victory. Despite allowing 10 hits, the veteran stuck to his game, mixing power and control. Yeksigian struck out seven and walked none in a gritty performance. In what has become a familiar trend, the Maroons supported their hurler with some slick defense, turning four double plays.

“He did an outstanding job of challenging their hitters with his fastball,” said Hofer, who caught the team ace in the first game. “We also had a great defensive team behind him, the combination of which lead to our victory.”

The second game of the doubleheader didn’t start off with the same bang, as each team only managed only one run through the first five innings. Schmitt, making his first career start, allowed one run on three hits through that period to keep his squad in the game. Regents first-year righty Jeff Jacobson (1–2) was equally impressive, recovering from some early difficulties to shut down Chicago. The visitors loaded the bases in the first and took a 1–0 lead in the second when fourth-year second baseman Matt Assad scampered home on a wild pitch. The Maroons bats fell quiet after that, scratching out only more hit the rest of the way.

Schmitt ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth, allowing two Regents runs. Playing from behind for the first time all afternoon, his teammates could not rescue him. Chicago had one final chance to stay alive in the top of the seventh, putting men on first and second with only one out, but the rally sputtered with a game-ending pair of groundouts.

“Kyle performed way beyond expectation in the second game,” Hofer said. “However, we didn’t quite give him enough offensive support, which has been the story for this year’s team so far.”

The next few days will be busy for the Maroons. They’ll head to Illinois Tech (7–13 pending the result of yesterday’s game) and Aurora (11–5) for a pair of doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday before hosting Wheaton (7–10) Tuesday.