The Maroons (14–16) were able to extend their win streak to five games with an 11–5 road win over North Park on Tuesday before dropping one to Concordia at home the following night.
Tuesday’s game at North Park got off to a shaky start, as the Vikings actually got on the board first in the second inning with two runs. However, third-year Nick Watson’s solid pitching prevented North Park from strong contact, limiting them to small ball play. An HBP followed by a single, a sac bunt, an RBI groundout, and a single that trickled through the middle made up the run-scoring sequence. Quickly, though, the South Siders responded with two runs of their own off a deep sac fly to center by second-year shortstop Ryan Krob and a single by fourth-year Kyle Engel. North Park tacked on another two in the bottom of the third. From then on, though, Chicago dominated.
The Maroons chased opposing first-year starter Brett Kessinger off the mound by loading the bases with only one out in the fourth. Third-year reliever Mario Creecy couldn’t end the inning until five more South Siders crossed the plate. RBIs by fourth-year Akers and Engle, a hit by second-year Toomey, and a North Park error broke the game open.
After a perfect inning by Watson, UChicago added another three runs in the fifth to essentially put the game out of reach. The bullpen backed Watson up fantastically, with first-years Ricardo Fernandez and Michael Davis combining for three no-hit innings. The duo carried the game to a final score of 11–5 in favor of the Maroons.
The South Siders returned home Wednesday to face Concordia. The result, however, was much different from the night before. Fourth-year starting pitcher Andrew VanWazer struggled on the mound, giving up four runs (three earned) in the first two innings. Seemingly in the zone all night, the Cougar hitters were effective against all five of the Chicago pitchers who took the mound. All but one Cougar recorded at least one hit.
Krob and Engel, Chicago’s two and three spot hitters, respectively, provided bright spots on an otherwise dreary day. Each recorded three hits to combine for six of the team’s nine total. However, the home team could only plate two of the ten runners who reached base. Thus, the final score of 11–2 in favor of Concordia was probably a wider margin than the Maroons deserved.
Engel has had a particularly good year, hitting an impressive .482. “I've been able to hit curveballs and other off-speed pitches better than I have in the past, so I don't need to rely on seeing a fastball to get a hit,” he said.
Engel has also noticed marked improvements in the team throughout the season. He said, “we really pulled together and it's fun to play with guys that care about the team and can laugh and have fun with each other.”
The upcoming weekend for the Maroons holds two doubleheaders. The South Siders will face off against Illinois Tech at home on Saturday with the first game starting at 11:30 a.m. and the second at 1:30 p.m. On Sunday, the squad will travel to Eureka College for games at 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The IIT Scarlet Knights will be a tough test, as they are having an incredible season. With a solid 20–7 record, their team on-base percentage is a mind-bending .412. The Eureka Red Devils, by contrast, stand at a paltry 6–23. Entering the weekend at 14–16, Chicago has the chance to even its record at .500.