[img id="78881" align="alignleft"]
The Maroons (8—6) will head west this weekend to play Rockford (6–9) after dropping a difficult game against Benedictine (8–8) on Wednesday. The Benedictine loss came on the heels of a dominant doubleheader performance by Chicago against Lawrence, in which the Maroons were able to outscore the Vikings 37–4 over the course of two games. The offensive explosion was short-lived, however, as the Maroons were only able to muster up eight hits for four runs. The Maroons were held scoreless for the first five innings.
“I do not believe our preparation or approach was the issue of the outcome,” said fourth-year catcher Jon Chua. “It simply came down to a few breaks going their way creating big innings and a few hard-hit balls for us going right at people.”
The game was difficult for the Maroons from the start. A lead-off single from second-year center fielder Ben Bullock went to waste on the very first play, as Bullock got caught attempting to steal second base. Two fly-outs ended the inning for Chicago. Benedictine capitalized on the Maroons’ inability to put runs on the board early, racking up three runs in the first inning off of two Maroon errors.
The Maroons were resilient and were able to score two runs in the sixth inning off a two RBI single from first-year third-baseman William Katzka. However, the story of the game was Benedictine’s ability to respond to Chicago scores, and the Eagles were able to score two more runs in the bottom of the sixth to put them back up three.
The Maroons rallied once more, scoring two in the top of the eighth, courtesy of a two RBI single from second-year Steven Schwabe, but once again, the Eagles held off the attack, responding with three of their own to put the score at 8–4, the eventual final score.
“The big thing Benedictine did to win was to answer whenever we scored. After they jumped ahead 3–0 we were able to score four runs on big hits from Will and Schwabe, but each time they answered with scores of their own which helped them curb our momentum,” said Chua.
The Maroons now head west to take on a Rockford team that has had its ups and downs this season. After dropping three straight near the end of March, the Regents rebounded with three straight wins, only to drop two more last Tuesday to Marian. Rockford’s batters will have to deal with the veteran pitching of fourth-year Dan McConologue. “Rockford puts together a solid team every year and it is always a good match-up with them,” said McConologue. “They’re the type of team that you can’t lose focus against for a second because they will take advantage of the mistakes that we make.”
The key for success for Chicago will be continued offensive pressure. The Maroons are currently batting a very strong .401 with batters in scoring position, and offense has been their strength all year.
On the defensive side McConologue will have to deal with a very top-heavy Rockford lineup. The first four Rockford batters all bat higher than .333, and junior lead-off hitter Ryne Billesbach bats an astronomical .436, reaching base nearly half the time he comes up to bat. Although the Maroons are on the ropes in terms of making the playoffs, they will continue to take their one-game-at-a-time approach.