April 28, 2009

Two wins over Case brighten rainy weekend

[img id="77651" align="alignleft"] It was a positively mixed weekend for baseball. The team did put a pair of victories in the win column. But those triumphs, both over Case, sandwiched a lopsided loss to Wash U.

On Saturday, Chicago met up with Case for the first game of the weekend at J. Kyle Anderson Field. Playing with disciplined precision, the Maroons (12–10) downed the Spartans (12–33) by a score of 8–3.

Chicago played a fundamentally sound game both at the plate and in the field. Second-year pitcher Dan McConologue threw a stellar game, going all nine innings while allowing three runs on seven hits, striking out eight Spartans along the way. With the win, he improved to 5–3 on the season.

On offense, the Maroons got help up and down the dugout, with six different South Siders scoring runs along the way. Fourth-year Kyle Schmitt went two for four with a walk, upping his season batting average to .420, and his on-base percentage to a team-leading mark of .486. Adding to the cause was fourth-year first baseman Scott Hofer, who went two for two with two walks, reaching base every time up to the plate and driving in a team-high five runs along the way.

The tables turned for the Maroons on Sunday though, even if the score exaggerated the fact. Third-year Joe Pankow took the hill for Chicago and allowed eight hits, the same number Wash U fourth-year Brian Williams allowed. Likewise, both teams left seven men on base. However, the Bears comfortably outscored Chicago, taking an 8–1 victory. The loss gave Pankow his first on the season, as he fell to 4–1, while Williams moved to 6–2.

Part of the explanation lies in the disparity in errors and walks: the Maroons gave up four errors and five walks, while the Bears committed one error and walked three. As a result, Chicago allowed a total of four unearned runs, which they were not able to overcome.

The Maroons were not inactive at the plate, either. Schmitt went two for three, with Chicago’s only RBI. First-year DH Trace Capps also pitched in a couple of hits, going two for four. In the end, however, it was the Bears who were able to convert hits to runs and play sound defense, winning by a score of 8–1 and improving to 20–9.

Chicago finished off the weekend well however, getting back together with the Spartans, playing clutch baseball and taking the game 9-8 in extra innings.

Schmitt led the team offensively again, going three for five and scoring three times. Second-year left fielder Zach Osman went three for five and scored a pair, while first-year third baseman Stephen Williams, Hofer, Capps, and second-year DH Marshall Oium all added two hits to the cause.

In his second outing, first-year Preston Atteberry was again strong, but left without a decision, lasting eight innings and giving up five runs on six hits, while walking four and striking out seven. For the Spartans, fourth-year Kevin Haley started and went for six and one third innings, allowing five runs and eight hits. Once the starters were out though, things got interesting.

Going into the ninth, Chicago was up by one. In the top of the frame, a pair of doubles by the Spartans, a fielder’s choice, a wild pitch, and an error combined to hand over three unearned runs to Case. Down by two in the bottom of the ninth, Chicago caught their own break in the form of a few crucial walks. Then, clutch hitting lifted the Maroons as fourth-year catcher Thomas Gonzalez singled to tie the game.

After that, the Maroons left three on base—the potential winning runs. In the tenth, the two teams traded runs, and the game moved onto another bonus inning. Finally, in the bottom of the twelfth, Schmitt a placed a single into left field, allowing Schmitt to score and end the game and a long baseball weekend.

It was Chicago’s second walk-off win of the season, and it certainly lifts their spirits heading into the home stretch of their 2009 campaign. The Maroons get back to work today, when they square off against Elmhurst in a double-header starting at 2 p.m. at J. Kyle Anderson Field.