April 11, 2014

South Siders having trouble finding footing this season

Chicago (4–15) fell to Illinois Tech (8–9) 8–5 on Wednesday after a close loss to Dominican (16–8) the day before. Despite the losses, the Maroons remain optimistic heading into an important weekend featuring games against Beloit (11–7) and Carthage (10–10).

In their Tuesday match, the Maroons fought a long, 14-inning battle with Dominican. Things started off well for Chicago as fourth-year outfielder Brett Huff hit an RBI single to put the Maroons on the board. Despite their promising start, the Maroons trailed 1–2 after the second inning.

The score remained 1–2 until the top of the seventh, when first-year infielder Ryan Krob singled to left field, scoring third-year outfielder Edward Akers and evening the score at 2–2.

Neither team was able to generate any notable offense until the top of the 13th, when fourth-year infielder Ricky Troncelliti hit a leadoff double. In an attempt to advance Troncelliti to third, Akers turned for a sacrifice bunt. He would end up reaching second base on a throwing error, allowing Troncelliti to score, and giving Chicago the go-ahead run, 3–2.

The Maroons’ celebrations were short-lived as Dominican answered back with one run in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. Solid pitching performances by first-year Thomas Prescott and fourth-year Ray Kim were not enough to prevent Dominican from scoring the winning run off of a sacrifice fly to right field in the bottom of the 14th. The Maroons were pleased with the fight they demonstrated in the close loss.

“I felt that we were very resilient and never gave up throughout the whole game [against Dominican],” Kim said.

The Maroons were back in action the following day, this time against Illinois Tech. Again, Chicago’s pitching was strong, with third-year Simon Swanson standing out in his inning of relief.

“Today [against Illinois Tech] and throughout the entire season, Simon Swanson has pitched excellently, and he’s turned himself into one of our most dependable guys,” said third-year pitcher and designated hitter Andrew VanWazer.

However, Chicago’s defense was not able to prevent Illinois Tech’s four runs, all unearned, in the top of the fourth. VanWazer impressed on offense, recording four hits against the Scarlet Hawks, while Huff drove in two runs.

Unfortunately for the Maroons, they were left ruing the defensive errors­—five in total—that ultimately cost them victory.

“We’ve obviously been struggling,” VanWazer said. “As a team, we’re just not playing up to our capabilities.”

The Maroons are now looking ahead to their games against Beloit and Carthage this weekend. Kim was clear about what the team needs to do to be successful.

“Offensively, we need to string quality at-bats together and produce runs,” Kim said. “Defensively, our pitching needs to continue getting groundballs and have purpose to every pitch. Also, we have to improve on the field and limit ourselves to simple errors. This is a very important weekend for us [against Beloit and Carthage] and we need to collectively come together as a team and turn it around.”

The Maroons begin their weekend slate with a doubleheader against Beloit on Saturday. The first game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Stagg Field. Sunday’s game against Carthage is set to begin at the same time in the same place.