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Capping their five game road trip, the Maroons lost for the second time in a row on Wednesday, losing to 30th ranked North Central 14–3 at Zimmerman Stadium in Naperville.
Coming off his dominating complete game performance only a week ago against Benedictine, fourth-year starting pitcher Joe Pankow surrendered seven runs in five and a third innings. Followed by a bullpen continuing the theme, the three subsequent pitchers brought on in relief allowed another seven runs on the way to recording just eight outs.
After two scoreless innings, in which Chicago collected not one hit, the Cardinal’s bats finally emerged, spurred on by leadoff man Nick Robinson, who picked up the first of his five RBIs of the evening with a double down the right field line. He extended his hitting streak to 13 games. After scoring on a sacrifice fly from designated hitter Joe Turek, the Cardinals grabbed a 3–0 lead after three.
Through the fifth, the score remained unchanged with the Maroons continually failing to hit with runners in scoring position. While Chicago mustered 11 hits and benefited from five North Central errors, the team could score only three runs.
“Yesterday, we simply could not hit with runners in scoring position,” assistant coach Scott Budeselich remarked. The Maroons stranded a total of 18 runners.
The offensive torpor was banished in the sixth inning when the Cardinals’ inchoate hitting matured into an offensive onslaught. Three separate Maroon pitchers faced 15 batters, surrendering five walks, seven hits, and ten runs and giving North Central an ineluctable 13–0 lead. Cardinal shortstop Nick Robinson racked up two hits and four RBIs during the inning.
The Maroons struck back in the seventh inning, after first-year Toni Logli smacked an RBI single down the right field line. Logli, one of the team’s trio of promising first-year talents, collected three hits in the course of his five at-bats.
After a scoreless bottom of the seventh, first-year John-Reynold Lopez singled up the middle to drive in two Chicago baserunners. Although too little too late, Lopez extended his hitting streak to 18 consecutive games, one of the few bright spots of the day.
Explaining his consistency at the plate this season, Lopez observed, “I feel that I have been able to be successful due to sitting on the right pitches and taking quality swings, working the count and just putting the ball into play.”
After an eventless ninth inning, the Maroons left Naperville having been outscored by opponents in their previous two games 35–8. With just a quarter of the team’s regular season games left, coach Budeselich remarked, “Our expectations for the rest of the year are to give our best effort each game and finish above .500.”
Speaking of the team’s inconsistency this season, third-year second baseman Nick Fazzari noted, “It’s tough being 14–12 when we expected to be in a better position at this point in the season.”
The Maroons will try to shake off their two-game losing streak this weekend against their rival Wash U. Noting their upcoming opponents, Fazzari added, “We play a four game series against Wash U coming up, and regardless of records going in it is always an intense rivalry.”
Chicago will face host Wash U Saturday at noon.