May 12, 2014

Maroons halt Bears’ playoff hopes

Chicago spoiled longtime rival Wash U’s chances at an NCAA tournament bid with its game two win in this past weekend’s three-game series, which included Senior Day.

The Maroons wrapped up their season by going 1–2 this past weekend against the Bears.  Chicago had a rough start in its final UAA matchup against the Bears on Friday afternoon.  In game one, the Maroons were unable to defend against a Wash U lineup that was constantly producing hits throughout the game.

“Wash U jumped all over our pitching with tons of extra base hits, including two home runs,” said third-year second baseman Nate Wagner.

Wash U was constantly on the attack, and the Maroons’ defense allowed a couple of runs in each inning. Fourth-year second baseman Dylan Massey hit a home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, but by that time the Maroons were already far behind.

“We seemed to lack a sense of urgency the entire game until we were in holes too big to climb out of,” said second-year pitcher Pat McManus.

The Maroons struggled to perform offensively against the Bears’ pitching, as they tallied only five hits by the end of the game.

“We faced their best pitcher and couldn’t get much going at the plate,” said third-year third baseman Andrew VanWazer.

Chicago ended game one with a 13–1 loss.

Despite the tough loss, the Maroons bounced back the next afternoon and beat Wash U.  Chicago was led by fourth-year outfielder Connor Bartelman and third-year shortstop Kyle Engel, both of whom singled up the middle to bring in two runs each in back-to-back innings. Bartelman and Engel’s hits would not have been as effective without a strong performance from the entire lineup, though.

“What helped was the bottom and the top of our order produc[ing] big hits for us,” said Wagner.

Wash U fought back and was up 5–4 by the top of the eighth inning, but the Maroons forced a Bears’ throwing error that drove in two runs.

“We fought back after Wash U took the lead with a key single by [first-year] Tom Prescott to take the lead for good,” said Wagner.

“[Third-year] Eddie Akers slid into third base, knocking the ball into the dugout, and [that] allowed us to take the lead,” said fourth-year pitcher Ray Kim.

Massey hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in Prescott, topping off the Maroons’ 7–5 victory.

In game three, the Maroons were caught in a similar situation as game one and lost 11–1. Wash U’s pitchers were on point, and there were hits coming from all over the Bears’ lineup.

“They got a strong pitching performance from their starter, and their relievers continued to shut us down. They hit and knocked runners in from top to bottom of their lineup, battling every at-bat and making it exhausting for our pitchers,” Wagner said.

Despite a rough season, in which Chicago ended 10–27, the Maroons were able to finish with some memorable moments on Senior Day.

“Massey went 4-for-5 in his last collegiate game,” VanWazer said. “It was great to have Ray Kim come in to pitch in the seventh inning of game two and pick up the final win of his college career.”

The most memorable moment of all for the Maroons was spoiling the Bears’ postseason opportunity.

“It felt great to knock off our rival and be the reason why Wash U lost its chance at the tournament,” Wagner said.

“Our motto for the weekend was, ‘If we’re not going to the tournament, they’re not either,’” VanWazer said.

As what happens after any team’s season ends, emotions and memories bubble to the surface.

“I will never forget getting ready for a baseball game or going to a game far away early in the morning, only to return late at night, or even just sitting in the bullpen with my fellow pitchers,” Kim said. “I will definitely miss coming into a game and receiving the ball from my coach when the game is on the line.”

Along with Kim, fourth-years Massey, Bartelman, pitcher Alex Terry, infielder Will Katzka, first baseman Ricky Troncelliti, outfielder Brett Huff, and pitchers Claude Lockhart and Chris Warren were honored on Senior Day.

“I’m going to miss their presence a lot, not only on the field but off as well,” VanWazer said.