May 11, 2010

Baseball cruises to victory in fourth-years' farewell

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Men’s baseball swept Illinois Tech at home this Sunday in the team’s last competition of the spring season.

Fourth-years Joe Pankow, who threw a complete-game victory in the second of the doubleheader wins, and Rob Serpico, who collected four RBIs over both games, played their final games as Maroons.

“I think it was definitely a big day for the seniors and the team as a whole,” Pankow said. “We had to win both games to finish above .500 on the season. Dan [McConologue] pitched really well the first game, and we had a big inning to help secure the first win, and we carried that over into the second game.”

“We played really well defensively in both games, which I think was key to the success,” Pankow continued.

Chicago led 2–1 after five-and-a-half innings in the opening game before plating five runs in the bottom of the sixth en route to a 7–1 victory.

Second-year Stephen Williams got the Maroons on the board with a towering two-run home run to left field in the first inning. After that, neither team scored until the sixth; in the bottom half, Chicago scored five runs off of just three hits. Serpico delivered a run-scoring single before first-year Jack Cinoman and second-year Trace Capps drew bases-loaded walks.

Third-year McConologue scattered five hits over seven innings en route to his third complete game of the year. McConologue (5–4) did not allow a hit until the fourth inning.

“I felt really comfortable on the mound in the first game because I knew that everyone playing behind me was going to give their best effort to pull away with two wins for our seniors,” McConologue said. “I think everyone wanted Rob and Joe to have a positive lasting memory of their last games on J. Kyle Anderson field.”

In game two, Pankow (4–5) threw a two-hitter as the Maroons swept the Scarlet Hawks 12–1. After yielding a run in the first inning, he allowed just three base runners the rest of the way as he notched his sixth complete game of the season.

Serpico scored twice and delivered a two-run double as part of an eight-run Chicago outburst in the opening inning. He also provided a run-scoring base hit in the fourth.

The double victory of the day was a proud moment for the Maroons.

“We are a pretty close-knit group of guys, and the team will really miss Rob and Joe on and off of the field as they have been major positive role models for myself and other underclassmen,” McConologue said. “Having the last game at home was ideal, and we had a great showing of fans and parents alike.”

The fact that the last game of the spring season was at home led to an atmosphere that was conducive to strong performances from the Maroons.

“It was nice to see so many people come out and watch the game—definitely a great way to end the season,” Cinoman said. He added a pair of RBIs and went 3-for-4 in game two to finish the year with 59 hits—the most ever by a Chicago freshman.

But the day was not just about individual accomplishments.

“We played very well as a team these last two games,” Cinoman explained. “It was very impressive to see what we could do as a team playing at our full potential.”

“The [seniors] were honored before the first game, but the way they both played yesterday and the whole season, I think we all felt honored to be on the field with them for their last game,” Cinoman continued.

Chicago finished the season with an 18–16 mark, giving the Maroons their second straight winning season and 11th in the past 16 years.

“I’m glad Serpico and I got to go out with two wins and a winning season,” Pankow said.