Major League baseball great Yogi Berra once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” He may have been referring to two of his players’ propensity to hit back-to-back home runs, but his words are also applicable to the Maroons. In a doubleheader against Monmouth (9–15) this weekend, Chicago (14–9) was yet again unable to capitalize on momentum. After winning the first game 3–0, they went on to lose the second 8–7.
“We played well our first game, our defense was solid and pitching did a fantastic job,” third-year infielder J.R. Lopez said.
Indeed, the pitching performance from third-year Matt O’Connor (2–1) was impressive. He threw 6.1 innings of five-hit, shutout ball en route to his second win of the season. After things got a bit interesting in the top of the seventh, with O’Connor issuing a walk and then giving up a single, second-year William Katzka came in for the save. Katzka induced a flyout and a groundout to secure the shutout and the win.
The South Siders scored in both the fourth inning and the sixth inning, the sixth generating the most excitement. With third-year Jack Cinoman aboard following a fielder’s choice, second-year outfielder Ricky Troncelliti came to the plate.
Troncelliti leads the team in batting, with a hefty .563 average, so a hit was expected. Instead of a mere RBI double or triple, however, Troncelliti blasted his first home run of the year, to right field, for two RBIs.
The Maroons have mainly relied on their pitching so far this season, and that kind of power has been largely absent. The home run was only the team’s fourth.
After an exciting win, highlighted by a rare display of power and a strong pitching performance, the Maroons were well poised to play another solid seven innings and head into the week coming off of a doubleheader sweep.
“Our lack of defense cost us the second game,” Lopez said.
After completing the first game without a single error, Chicago made five in the second.
Second-year starter Alex Terry (2–2) got off to a rocky start in the first inning due to the defense, and was never really able to find his rhythm. The game began with two straight Chicago errors, in an inning that eventually led to three runs for Monmouth.
The Maroons fought back with a run in the bottom of the first, but they never led in the game.
Probably the most shocking statistic of the game, explained by the five errors, was that the Maroons did not yield a single earned run in the contest. All eight runs surrendered by the South Siders’ staff were unearned.
“The [second] game Sunday was a tough loss,” Troncelliti said. “We neither played particularly good defense nor hit well and that really hurt us.”
The Maroons find themselves in a familiar position, hoping to rebound from a loss as they head into two games this week. Both games will be on the road, against Wabash and North Central.
“Wabash is a good team and it will take an all around team effort to come home victorious,” Lopez said. “If our team hits the way we are capable of, and our defense comes to play, it will be tough to beat our squad.”
Wabash enters the game with a record of 13–19 and a home record of 7–3.
North Central may pose a bit more of a challenge for Chicago. The Cardinals enter Wednesday’s game with a record of 15–10, though they have currently lost four in a row. The Maroons will hope to make the most of the Cards’ backwards momentum.
“North Central is another good team…if we play the way we are capable of, pitching, defense, and hitting, we have a good chance to win,” Lopez said.
Both Lopez and Troncelliti noted the team’s need to play better defense and maintain consistency. If the squad can do that, Troncelliti said, “it will give us a good opportunity to succeed.”
First pitch in Gary, Indiana against Wabash is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST on Tuesday. After that game, the squad will travel to Naperville, Illinois, for a 3 p.m. game against North Central on Wednesday.