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A fourth-year’s arm and three first-years’ bats propelled the Maroons to victory at J. Kyle Andersen Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. Behind the dominant pitching of Joe Pankow and a late offensive onslaught sparked by first-years John-Reynold Lopez, Jack Cinoman, and Tony Logli, the Maroons cruised past the Benedictine University Eagles 9—1, improving to 11—9 on the season.
After the somnambulant first six innings resulting in a 2—1 Maroon lead, the first-year trio of Lopez, Cinoman and Logli transformed Chicago’s offense from inchoate to indomitable. With one out in the seventh inning, third baseman Lopez roped a double down the right field line, extending his hitting streak to 12 games.
Succeeding him at the plate, left fielder Cinoman knocked a single to right allowing Lopez to score. Cinoman, the reigning DIII Hitter of the Week, went two for four on the day. Catcher Logli promptly drove in Cinoman, who scored twice on the day, giving the Maroons a three-point lead.
“We started to get pitches we could hit and were able to string consecutive hits together, leading to multiple runs,” Cinoman said, describing the seventh-inning offense.
Second baseman Nick Fazzari, who reached base following four of his five plate appearances, noted the first-years’ up-and-coming talent. “[They] have stepped up to play a huge role on this team so far,” he said. “Cinoman, Lopez, and recently Tony Logli have been swinging the bat well and it’s great to have that kind of production out of the young guys.”
Although the extra runs seemed much needed, the superlative pitching of Pankow continued to hood the Eagles the whole game. With perfect pitch placement and a curveball fluttering just beyond the bootless Benedictine bats, Pankow allowed only three hits and a run as he cruised for all nine innings.
Even the weather augured success for Chicago on a day when everything seemed to go right. Coming off a 10—8 loss at Dominican on Monday, Pankow’s pitching performance gave bullpen arms a chance to rest and tan.
After allowing a double to lead off the game, he did not surrender another hit until the fourth.
Up 4—1, the Maroons broke the game open with five runs in the bottom of the eighth, mercilessly battering Benedictine pitcher Brendan McElhaney, who remained unable to benefit from an ever-expanding strike zone as the inning progressed.
Although spurred on by three first-years, Cinoman was quick to note the collective aspects of the Maroon’s victory.
“Considering we have a group of freshmen that are playing well this year, I don’t think you can separate one class from the other,” he said. “Everyone has played a part in the season so far and I think we as a team will have to continue to play well through the end of the season.”
The Maroons will compete next against host Aurora Friday afternoon.