[img id="78297" align="alignleft"]
Dropping games to North Central and Northwestern this week, the Maroons continued their downward spiral having now lost four in a row. The Maroons fell to 20th-ranked North Central 1–5 at J. Kyle Andersen field on Tuesday, and 14–5 to Northwestern in Evanston on Wednesday.
It was a dismal ending to a week in which three players received UAA honors. Second-year designated hitter Stephen Williams, whose 19 doubles this season set a team record, and first-year outfielder Jack Cinoman earned all-UAA First Team Honors. First-year third baseman J.R. Lopez, who hit safely in 19 consecutive games, was named to Second Team Honors.
The games, however, were less celebratory. Capitalizing on a bevy of errors and RBI singles by second-year first baseman Trace Capps and third-year center fielder Marshal Oium, the Maroons jumped to an early 5–1 lead after two innings of play against North Central.
But after the early outburst, the Maroons managed only two more hits on the day. As Chicago’s bats cooled, North Central’s grew hot. Third-year starting pitcher Dan McConologue was unable to keep the lead, surrendering six runs in the top of the fifth inning to give North Central an 11–5 lead.
Even a dominant relief appearance by first-year Matt O’Connor, in which he allowed only one hit over four and two-thirds innings, could not inspire the dormant Maroon bats.
Wednesday’s loss continued the themes established on Tuesday against Northwestern, as the Maroons once again jumped to an early advantage against their Division I opponents. The Maroons mustered 13 hits on the day but scored all five of their runs in the first two innings, at the end of which they led 5–1.
As with the day before, however, the team’s pitching proved incapable of maintaining a lead. Second-year starting pitcher Preston Atteberry couldn’t finish the fifth, and surrendered seven earned runs on nine hits and three walks. Second-year Alex Garcia, and fourth-year Joe Pankow fared much the same in relief, surrendering a total of six runs over the final three-and-a-third innings of the game.
While the Maroons didn’t get the result they would have liked, third-year second baseman Nick Fazzari noted that playing a Division I opponent did not phase the team. “We get up for it just like any game,” Fazzari noted. “Many of us play with and against D1 players in summer leagues so the competition is not unusual, but there’s definitely a drive to see how we stack up against the best team in the Big Ten.”
In what has been a season of streaks for the Maroons, losing their fourth in a row with only one game left highlighted a number of the team’s deficiencies.
But with a young team and no declarations for the MLB draft, the Maroons fully expect to improve on this season’s efforts.
Chicago will play Illinois Tech in their season closer on May 9 at J. Kyle Andersen Field.