Although midterms still seem far off for Chicago students, the Maroons were faced with a big test of their own this past weekend as they headed down to Wash U for their first of two series against the Bears.
Chicago (4–13) split two close games with Wash U (11–13) on Saturday but fell behind early the following day and never managed to put a significant dent in the Bears’ lead, leaving the weekend record at 1–2.
In game one, third-year right-hander Anthony DeRenzo started for the Maroons, holding the Bears to four runs (three of them earned) on seven hits in six-and-one-third innings, with a strikeout and three walks.
In the same contest, the Maroons found themselves down by one in the seventh. First-year pitcher Thomas Prescott led off the inning with a double. Third-year outfielder Edward Akers then reached base from being hit by a pitch. With one out, fourth-year infielder Dylan Massey singled through the right side, loading the bases for third-year infielder Kyle Engel. Engel drilled in a run with a hit, scoring Prescott and tying the score at four. This would be the last run of the game for Chicago, though, as the Bears scored twice in the next inning, capturing the victory, 6–4.
Chicago didn’t start game two in the best fashion, as Wash U went up by three runs by the third inning. To add to their woes, second-year pitcher Lucas Friss, the Maroons’ game two-starter, had to leave the game with an oblique injury in the third. Chicago’s relievers came through, quelling the Bears’ offense, allowing zero runs for the remainder of the game.
“Luckily, stellar performances by our bullpen [second-year Mark Landgrebe and third-year Kyle Nitiss] allowed us to keep the Bears at four runs. We closed the gap and ended up taking the lead and holding it for the win,” Friss said.
The South Siders took that lead in the fifth inning after first tying the game at four—Prescott knocked in two of the three tying runs. Chicago moved ahead for good in the seventh when fourth-year outfielder Brett Huff singled, bringing in the eventual winning run.
Prescott has contributed in a vital capacity as a first-year.
“As a freshman, my main goal at the plate is to try and help the team win. With that in mind, I do not try to do too much at the plate,” Prescott said. “Just trying to stir up some momentum and contribute in positive ways is the goal, and I’ve been fortunate enough [as of] late to do so.”
Unfortunately for the South Siders, Sunday’s finale was not as close as the first two games, as the Bears retaliated in aggressive form, beating Chicago 12–1.
Prescott saw the positives of the weekend’s games.
“Our abilities to be clutch and come through in tough situations were key this series,” Prescott said. “I also cannot say enough about how strong our relief pitching has been. The guys have worked hard in the offseason, and it is most definitely showing.”
Friss is confident about Chicago’s potential for the rest of the season.
“Once we start consistently putting together good performances in pitching, defense, and timely hitting, our true talent will show and inevitably manifest in wins,” Friss said. “The bottom line is we are truly better than how we are currently performing, and we need to start putting everything together.”
The Maroons will have the opportunity to improve their record at Dominican (13–8) Tuesday and at home against Illinois Tech Wednesday, both at 4 p.m.