April 7, 2009

Maroons ride strong pitching in double-header split against Dallas

And the wait to come home goes on.Weather prevented baseball’s home opener for the second time this year, with snow leading to the cancellation of a double header against Dallas. Now nearly halfway through the season, the Maroons will make their J. Kyle Anderson debut—fingers crossed—this afternoon, but their home away from home in Crestwood would have to suffice for Saturday’s back-to-back against Dallas.The Maroons (6–7) weathered the chilly temperatures early on, plating eight runs in the first three innings of a 10–2 victory over the Crusaders, but Chicago’s offense cooled off in the second game of the day, a 1–0 loss.“I thought we pitched a lot better than we had previously, so I think that was a positive for the team,” third-year pitcher Joe Pankow said. “We scored 10 runs in the first game; in the second game, we just didn’t make the adjustments we needed to.”With Pankow on the mound for the first game, the Maroons turned in another quality performance from the plate to back up their ace’s second consecutive complete game.Chicago struck first, as first-year Stephen Williams’ three-run homer in the first inning gave the Maroons the early advantage. Williams has hit all of the team’s five home runs this year, a season after the Maroons finished with 10.Pankow cruised through the first three innings, while the Maroons plated five runs on just two hits in the third inning to extend their lead to 8–0. The Dallas pitching staff struggled with control throughout the inning, and the Maroons were able to capitalize on that.A walk and a hit batter allowed first-year Trace Capps to load the bases with a single before third-year Rob Serpico drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. After entering for Gabe Sandersius, Michael Schweiss walked three batters—a stretch that included two passed balls and a wild pitch—allowing two more runs to score. Fourth-year Kyle Schmitt followed with a two-run single before a double play cut the Maroons’ inning short.Dallas countered with a run in the fourth inning and another in the fifth, but Pankow was on his game through all seven innings, giving up just four hits and no earned runs.“I was able to locate all of my pitches,” Pankow said. “I feel like I had everything going. All four of my pitches were moving how I wanted them to.”The Maroons got a similarly strong performance in the second game Saturday from second-year Dan McConologue, who gave up just one run in a complete-game effort.It was the bats that went silent for Chicago in the second game, though, as Dallas ace Philip Carkhuff pitched a complete-game gem, allowing just two hits and striking out nine.The only scoring of the game came in the top of the fourth, when Varea Costello singled home the game’s deciding run.Saturday’s split is another in a long string of similar performances in double-headers this season. Chicago has gone 1–1 in all four twin bills this season, and with six more this year, the South Siders’ record could use the boost that a few sweeps in back-to-backs would provide.While the Maroons struggled from the plate in the second game of the day, Chicago’s offense has still averaged better than nine runs per game. Meanwhile, Chicago’s starters have found a groove, as Pankow has maintained a 1.29 ERA in three starts and McConologue has given up just five runs in his last 15 innings.The South Siders hope to play on their newly resurfaced field for the first time as Aurora (12–4) comes to town this afternoon at 3 p.m.