Looking to continue their hot hitting, baseball ran into turbulence from an unexpected source and then saw its home opener washed out in a weekend to forget.
Taking on winless MSOE in a Saturday doubleheader in Milwaukee, the Maroons (5–8) handed the Raiders (1–20) their first victory, an 8–5 fiasco in the first game, before rebounding to salvage a split with an 8–2 decision in the capper. Third-year starter Dominik Meyer (1–2, 1.02) took the loss in the opener, while second-year starter Alex Gallan (1–1, 4.80) earned the win in game two. Sunday’s scheduled doubleheader against Lakeland (6–6) was postponed to Tuesday afternoon due to Saturday’s thunderstorms.
After an impressive win over North Central (5–9) Wednesday, the Maroon boarded the bus to Wisconsin expecting a series sweep, but choppy defensive play in the early going handed the Raiders an early lead that proved insurmountable.
With the game scoreless through one-and-a-half, a pair of two-out errors by the Maroons gave the hosts new life in the bottom of the second. After Meyer walked third-year third baseman Dan Gebhart, a pair of errors by the pitcher helped the runner score from first base. The Raiders pushed across another run in the third, then put up four more in the fourth, again aided by some Maroon defensive miscues as an error by Meyer and two wild pitches continued Chicago’s self-inflicted damage.
Chicago meanwhile remained scoreless amid the MSOE onslaught, despite getting their first two batters on base in both the fourth and fifth innings. The breakthrough finally came in the sixth against first-year pitcher Jake Lathers. Third-year centerfielder Nathan Ginsberg led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on an error, than came around on a single by second-year right fielder Travis Blane to get Chicago on the board. Some sloppy glove-work, this time from the home side, helped the Maroons push across two more in the stanza.
Against an opponent entirely unfamiliar with the practice of protecting a lead, the Maroons pounded out five runs on six hits and a pair of errors in the final two innings, but in the end it was too little too late.
Ginsberg and fourth-year second basemen Tony Zitek led Chicago offensively with three hits and a run apiece. Meyer went three and two-thirds and allowed six runs, two earned, on two hits and six walks to go with three errors and two wild pitches. Nelson earned the win for the Raiders, shutting down the Maroons for four innings on five hits, a walk, and two punchouts.
Looking to bounce back in the second game, the Maroons jumped ahead early and received a standout performance from Gallan to cruise to victory. Scoreless after the first frame, the Maroons pounced for two runs on a sac fly from first-year catcher Gino Miglio and an RBI double from fourth-year first baseman Dan Cozzi. Chicago added two more an inning later with an RBI two-bagger from first-year shortstop Robby Serpico and an error for the 4–0 lead. The South Siders then made it 6–0 with two runs in the fourth.
Gallan, meanwhile, escaped sticky situations in the first and third before finally allowing the Raiders on the board in the bottom of the fifth. The righty got into a bases-loaded jam with one out, but was able to wiggle out of the inning with only two runs to his name and the lead still safe. Two more Chicago runs in the fifth inning provided insurance, but Gallan wouldn’t need it as he pitched in and out of trouble in the final innings without any further damage to preserve the win.
Going the full seven innings, Gallan scattered nine hits and three free passes, but gave up only two runs, one earned, to go with two walks. Zitek (two-for-three) led a balanced attack for Chicago in which six different players knocked in runs. First-year starter Jordan Gruenke took the loss for the Raiders, allowing six runs, two earned, in three-and-a-third innings.
Originally scheduled to make their 2007 debut at J. Kyle on Sunday, a soggy field and the threat of even more rain forced a postponement of the doubleheader with Lakeland to today.