SPORTS

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April 25, 2008

Home not so sweet for slumping baseball

The baseball team’s strong start in Arizona seems farther away than Phoenix after a string of three losses to sub-.500 teams has left the Maroons looking for answers with eight games remaining this season.

A 12–7 loss to North Central (16–16) Wednesday night dropped the Maroons to 6–9 on the year after a 10–2 loss suffered at the hands of Elmhurst (10–19) Tuesday.

“We have a very talented team this year, and I think we are all surprised that we are having difficulty,” third-year pitcher Alex Gallan said. “Much of the focus thus far has been on trying to capture the right mindset or intensity we need to win.”

The struggles that the Maroons have faced all season continued when Elmhurst came to town Tuesday as the Blue Jays overcame an early one-run deficit to defeat the Maroons 10–2.

Fourth-year designated hitter Dominik Meyer knocked across the Maroons’ first run as second-year Rob Serpico scored on Meyer’s one-out single in the first inning.

After just one hit in the first two innings, the Blue Jays pushed across four runs on four hits in the top of the third inning, as Elmhurst scored in five of the final seven innings of the game.

The Maroons seemed to be putting together a rally in the sixth inning, as Meyer and third-year first-baseman Schmitt singled to put runners at the corners with no outs. Fourth-year righ fielder Nate Ginsberg sacrificed Meyer home, but it would prove to be the final run of the night for Chicago, as the South Siders managed just two hits in the remainder of the game.

Second-year pitcher Peter Childs picked up the win for the Blue Jays, giving up two runs on eights hits over five innings. Meanwhile, first-year pitcher Dan McConologue fell to 1–2 after pitching 4.2 innings and giving up seven runs on nine hits.

The Maroons went back to the drawing board Wednesday when North Park came to town but were once again unable to retain an early lead as the Vikings capitalized on seven Chicago errors for a 12–7 victory.

After going down 1–0 in the second, the Maroons responded with a run of their own to tie the game in the bottom half of that inning, before taking control with two runs in the third.

First-year shortstop Nick Fazzari’s single pushed Schmitt across for the South Siders’ first run, and a Viking error helped fourth-year third-baseman Mike Serio and Meyer to come across in the third.

The Vikings, however, responded quickly, scoring four runs in the fourth inning as first-year pitcher Marshall Oium threw three wild pitches in the frame.

Down 6–4 in the sixth inning, third-year catcher Scott Hofer’s leadoff double sparked a three-run rally as the Vikings committed two errors, allowing Hofer, Meyer, and Ginsberg to score.

Errors would bite both teams, though, as Chicago went on to commit three in what would prove to be the decisive seventh inning.

“The errors certainly hurt us in the seventh inning. It is definitely tough to deal with that as a pitcher, but that is part of the job description,” Gallan, who dropped to 1–2 with the loss, said. “You have to keep your cool on the mound and stay focused, because as soon as you lose your poise, you won’t be giving up any more easy errors, they will all be line walks and line drives.”

The first error came with two men on with no outs, allowing North Park to tie the game at seven apiece. After the Maroons secured the first out, two more errors would allow North Park to plate five more runners before an inning-ending double play.

Chicago would be unable to recover in the final innings as the Vikings allowed just one base runner for the Maroons in that span, coming on an error in the ninth.

“We aren’t making errors, rolling over the ball, and leaving pitches over the plate by luck; there are mechanical flaws behind these outcomes,” Gallan said. “I know we have the ability to play well, we just need to do a better job of identifying these problems and making the slight adjustments.”

Chicago has blown leads in five games this season, including each of the last three.

The Maroons will play Wash U (11–10) Saturday morning in Ohio.