April 16, 2019

Chicago Bombards Grinnell in Explosive Outings

Maroon baseball knocked it out of the park against Grinnell College, setting off the 2019 home season on a great note with a pair of stunning victories: 12–5 and 20–1, respectively. The inaugural series of two games was played at home in back-to-back matches on Saturday. 

Though Grinnell led 2–1 in game one, their satisfaction was short-lived: The Maroons scored seven runs in the fourth inning in a display of offensive prowess that would become a constant for the rest of the match. The fifth inning saw three more runs; an additional run was tacked on by the end of the eighth. Standout performers for the day were a trio of strong pitchers. Relief pitchers second-year Zach Morochnik, whose two-inning stint yielded two strikeouts and no hits; and second-year Chandler Yu, whose first appearance for the Maroons began brilliantly with four strikeouts and no hits, are especially notable. Starting pitcher and fourth-year Brenton Villasenor also performed admirably, amassing six strikeouts to five hits, a run, and three walks in four innings. Offensively, fourth-year Brady Sarkon led the way as he totaled an impressive two RBI and a double through 17 total team hits.

Game two was significantly less contentious from the start, as the Maroons instantly announced their presence with a 17-run, 15-hit offensive onslaught in the bottom of the first. In an inning where Chicago sent 21 batters to the plate, the first 10 Maroons got hits, chasing Grinnell’s starting pitcher from the game after only a third of an inning. The barrage featured three hits from third-year Payton Jancsy, RBI triples by fourth-year Josh Parks (his second of the day) and second-year Brian Lyle, as well as the highlight of the afternoon: a mammoth two-run home run over the center field fence from first-year Carson Weekley, sending the Maroon dugout and bleachers into a frenzy. Chicago’s historic heroics at bat should not overshadow the masterful Maroon pitching, which held the Pioneers to one run and four hits over the seven-inning, score-shortened game. Third-year starting pitcher Jacob Petersen dominated in his three scoreless frames, and four Maroon relievers (third-years Daniel Smith, Patrick Rogers, and Patrick Murphy, in addition to fourth-year Ravi Bakhai) combined to allow only two hits over the final four innings.

            Speaking after the game, head coach John Fitzgerald was impressed with the patient offensive mentality that sparked Chicago’s first-inning eruption: “Our approach of hitting the ball where it was pitched—driving it up the middle, opposite field—led us to score runs. Everybody was extremely dialed in, and that obviously can be a bit contagious for the rest of the lineup.”

            The Maroons kept their blistering hot offense alive against division rival Lawrence University in a home doubleheader on Tuesday. With wins, 10­–8 and 12–2, Chicago extended its winning streak to six. The team will next take on Ripon in a four-game series, split over Thursday and Saturday.