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May 11, 2015

Maroons swept in last regular season weekend

The Maroons concluded their season over the weekend with three games against Wash U at J. Kyle Anderson Field, with one taking place on Friday and the other two on Saturday. Coming into the series 18–17, the home squad hoped to win the series and complete its season above .500, but, unfortunately, it was not meant to be. The South Siders lost all three games, although none with a particularly poor performance.

On Friday, the opponents only managed to squeeze in five innings before the rain became too much, and the game was called. Nevertheless, the result was official, giving a 3–1 victory to the Bears. Wash U scored a quick three runs in the top of the first, seemingly sensing the impending game-truncating rain. However, Chicago starter third-year Lucas Friss recovered quickly, giving up just two hits and no runs over the next four innings. On the offensive side, fourth-year Kyle Engel extended his hit streak to 26 games in the fourth and was quickly brought home by a double from fourth-year second-baseman William Katzka. Down by two runs, rainfall came soon after and washed away any chance of a comeback for the South Siders.

Saturday was Senior Day for the Maroons, an opportunity to honor Chicago’s seven seniors: outfielder Edward Akers, pitcher Anthony DeRenzo, infielder Kyle Engel, infielder William Katzka, pitcher Simon Swanson, pitcher and infielder Andrew VanWazer and infielder Nathan Wagner.

The Maroons flipped the script on the visitors in the first couple innings on Saturday, scoring the first three runs of the game. In the first, Engel hit a fly ball to center that was deep enough to bring second-year outfielder Nicholas Toomey home. In the second, fourth-year Andrew VanWazer and first-year Max Larsen both scored unearned runs on a fielding error and a wild pitch, respectively.

On the other side, Wash U, after being shutout in the first two innings, finally got to second-year starter Thomas Prescott in the top of the third, though the inning’s lone run was scored before the team recorded a hit. The Bears went on to score a run on two hits in the fourth and two runs on three hits in the fifth. The Maroons were able to tie the game at four runs apiece in the bottom of the fifth, with first-year catcher Matt Slodzinski singling home Engel. Things had looked good up to this point, with the momentum back in Chicago’s favor. However, the Maroons couldn’t put together anything else, and the Bears scored the dagger run in the top of the seventh to seal their 5–4 victory. The final game of the season was immediately wild. In an unfortunate turn of events, Wash U was able to put 14 consecutive runners on base in the top of the first before a single out was recorded, resulting in 12 runs in that inning alone. In a testament to the Maroons’ resolve, there was essentially no more damage done in the rest of the game. Impressively, a combination effort by six bullpen pitchers yielded only one run on three hits after that first inning. But the bats weren’t working well, and Chicago finished the season on a 13–1 loss, dropping to 18–20 on the year.

The seven seniors conclude their time on the field having compiled a four-year record of 75–71. Remarking on the senior class, third-year pitcher Nick Watson said, “This group of seniors brought a great attitude to practice every day and really set the tone for the year. They’re not the most outspoken group when you compare them to some of the previous senior classes, but they let their dedication to the game do the talking.”

Looking forward to the future of Maroon baseball, he added, “I’m very excited for next year. Although the senior class is a big loss, we’ve got a lot of returners, and I think we have what it takes to win a lot of games. Also, I can’t say enough about how confident I am in the future of the program under Coach Fitz. He quickly gained the respect of every player on the team which can be hard to do as a first year coach.”

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