April 15, 2011

Williams hits walk-off homer to defeat Aurora

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Third-year catcher Stephen Williams dug into the batter’s box for his final at-bat on Wednesday afternoon. Chicago trailed Aurora 4—3 in the bottom of the ninth. The bases were loaded. There were two outs. Williams was likely the Maroons’ last batter of the game—their last chance to win. With that in mind, Williams laced a single to center field to drive in the tying and winning runs.

After some up-and-down results so far this season, Chicago (10—6) hopes that its consecutive come-from-behind wins this week may be enough to spark an extended winning streak. The day before the 5—4 walk-off win against Aurora (14—8), first-year designated hitter Brett Huff capped a Chicago rally with a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth to beat Dominican (6—17) 9—6.

With its momentum going forward, Chicago heads to Indiana to play Wabash on Friday before it hosts a doubleheader against Monmouth on Sunday.

“At the beginning of the year, there was a feeling around the team that we would be in every game and have a chance to win it late,” said fourth-year right fielder Marshall Oium. “Recently we have had things not go quite our way and let some games that we could have won slip away. If we can continue to play good defense and start to come up with big hits late in the game, then we will start seeing the results we want in terms of our win-loss record.”

Chicago’s strong defense and starting pitching this year has allowed the team to remain competitive in every game. Each of the Maroons’ losses has come by five runs or fewer.

“For the most part, we have been playing very good defense this year and that has contributed greatly to our wins,” said Williams. “Our infield defense has been superb, and our outfield always seems to track balls down. In general, our pitching has also been very good. Our starting pitchers, Dan McConologue, Alex Garcia, Alex Terry, and Matt O’Connor have done an excellent job keeping us in every game.”

Despite its success this week, however, Chicago must be cautious in its games this upcoming weekend. Last season, Chicago split the doubleheader against Monmouth, with its loss coming in extra innings.

“We split with [Monmouth] last year in a doubleheader at their place. It was a tough loss for us because we felt that those were two important games for us against an opponent we could beat and we let the opportunity slip away,” Oium said. “This weekend, we are just going to keep doing what we have been doing all year, and that’s having our starters go as deep into games as possible, get a lot of hits, and score as many runs as possible.”