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April 30, 2010

Baseball sweeps Elmhurst, Wheaton

Last weekend, Chicago’s much-anticipated back-to-back doubleheaders against rival Wash U were cancelled due to the inclement weather. But with every storm there is a silver lining, and in this case, it came from the tenacity the Maroons displayed at home this week, as Chicago won their home games on Tuesday and Wednesday against Elmhurst and Wheaton, respectively.

In Tuesday’s game, the Maroons got off to a quick start. A double by fourth-year shortstop Rob Serpico in the bottom of the second inning brought home second-year first baseman Trace Capps and third-year center fielder Marshall Oium as Chicago drew first blood to go up 2–0. The Maroons expanded their lead in the fourth, when first-year thirdbaseman J.R. Lopez scored off of a single by third-year left fielder Zach Osman.

Far from rolling over and dying, the Bluejays flew their way to gain the lead in the top of the fifth with four runs off of four hits before Chicago responded in kind with three runs by Capps, second-year Stephen Williams, and first-year right fielder Jack Cinoman in the bottom of the inning.

From that point on, the game took off. Elmhurst momentarily tied the game in the sixth with a two-run homer by center fielder Dan Matkovic before the Maroons once again roared back in the bottom of the inning. Osman scored off an errant pitch before fellow third-year second baseman Nick Fazzari followed him home thanks to an RBI by Cinoman. Capps and Williams scored another run each before Oium brought in the fifth run of the inning off of another hit by Serpico.

In the seventh inning, a strong double play from Serpico to Fazzari and Capps quelled what might have been an Elmhurst resurgence. In the bottom of the seventh, Cinoman scored again off of a double by Williams, who then scored his third run of the game after a pop-up by Lopez.

What turned out to be the highlight of the game occurred in the eighth and final inning. Lopez hit a grand slam to plate himself along with Capps, Williams, and Fazzari. All told, the score was 19–8.

“We have been playing well at home because our pitching, hitting, and defense have all stepped it up,” said Osman.

In Wednesday’s game with Wheaton, the first few innings crawled by. In the first five innings both Wheaton and Chicago struggled with the scoreboard almost as much as with each other. Neither defense was allowing much. By the end of the fifth inning, the score was a 2–1 lead for Wheaton. Chicago’s sole run came when Oium stole home during an error in the fourth inning.

However, entering the sixth inning the Maroons found their groove. Both Oium and first-year Tony Logli were walked. Fazzari was then hit by a ball, leaving the bases loaded for Cinoman to hit a three-RBI double. Later that inning Cinoman, himself was walked home to score a total four runs in one inning.

The Maroons never looked back. After the top of the ninth, the score stood at 7–3 for Chicago.

“We fought long and hard,” Osman said. “And we were able to finish on top.”

It has been a common theme in their home winning streak. Over the past four games, Chicago has more than doubled their opponents score every time. In the past three games, there were definite struggles until the end of the fifth inning. But each time the team has turned an inchoate concept of victory into a concrete reality.

This has been in large part due to the phenomenal batting by the first-year triumvirate consisting of Logli, Lopez, and Cinoman. Three weeks ago, Cinoman was elected UAA athlete of the week. Lopez was on a 19-game hitting streak through the Elmhurst game. With the 19th game, he surpassed a feat not performed since 2005.

Unfortunately, the record came to an end when he failed to make contact on Wednesday.

In spite of these successes, the Maroons are still frustrated by not being able to play last weekend in St. Louis.

“Even with the four games against Wash U rained out, it’s still a goal of ours to get to 20 wins this year,” Fazzari said. “We’ve got a few big games against DePauw and are looking to come out on top over Northwestern after tying them last year. If we play solid defense and hit like we have the last few games, we should be able to get to 20.”

To do this, the Maroons, who are 16–13, will need to win all of their next four games.

The baseball team will play against DePauw this Saturday.

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