April 10, 2009

Bats fall silent in back-to-back home losses

[img id="77569" align="alignleft"] Temperatures in the balmy upper 40s and sunlight in generous measure seemed to signal an afternoon of good fortune Wednesday at Stagg Field, but the Maroons’ bats could afford only one run between two games as they dropped a pair to Illinois Wesleyan.

The 19th-ranked Titans (16–1) overpowered the Maroons (1–6) with superior pitching and airtight efficiency in the field. The opener of the doubleheader was shaping up as a pitcher’s duel until Wesleyan pulled away with a three-run seventh to come away with a 4–1 victory. In the second contest, the Titans held the Maroons scoreless and got the job done at the plate to secure the win, 5–0.

Third-year Christy Engel threw seven innings in the first game, allowing six hits and walking one. For the Maroons, first-year Sarah Neuhaus pitched a complete game, surrendering four runs on 10 hits and walking two. Wesleyan was held scoreless for the first couple innings until fourth-year center fielder Monica Urban singled in the third inning, then stole second and scored on a Chicago error. In the bottom half of the same inning, the Maroons responded as second-year left fielder Lori Knapp doubled and then scored on Neuhaus’s single.

After that, things were quiet until the top of the seventh. In the seventh, however, the Titans finally started connecting on some of Neuhaus’s pitches. A pair of singles followed by an error put two runners in scoring position with one out. A couple more singles and a walk put three runs on the board for Wesleyan and lifted the Titans over the top for the win.

The second game was a defensive tour de force for the Titans, who shut out the Maroons with the pitching of fourth-year Valerie Hackett who, for six innings, gave up only two hits and two walks while striking out five. Wesleyan played flawless defense, committing zero errors in the nightcap. On the flip side, Chicago pitchers third-year Kathleen Duffy and first-year Glynis Fagan split duties on the mound, allowing four runs on six hits and one run on four hits, respectively.

Wesleyan scored a run each in the second and third and then broke the game open in the fourth, taking advantage of a couple Chicago errors to score three runs on three hits. Fourth-year left fielder Natalie Chase was instrumental for Wesleyan on offense in the second game, going three for three and leading off the rally in the fourth inning with a single.

This weekend, Chicago will have another shot at winning two games in one afternoon. On Saturday, the Maroons will head up to Wisconsin for another double feature, as they take on Loras and Beloit.