The University of Chicago baseball team opened their 2018 season last Sunday, February 25, with games against Dominican University and Fontbonne University in O’Fallon, MO. The Maroons started off the year with a pair of losses, but will look to bounce back and shake off the rust with a doubleheader on March 3 against Greenville University and the University of Dubuque in Greenville, IL.
Against Dominican, the Maroons started off the game with a 2–0 lead. In the bottom of the first inning, Dominican quickly erased this hot start with six runs of their own, and UChicago trailed for the rest of the day. The Maroons finished with 8 hits to Dominican’s 13, and ultimately were unable to pull out the victory, losing 9–5.
The second game of the day against Fontbonne started out in a similar fashion, with Fontbonne bringing home four runs, three of which came from a three-run homer. The Maroons were able to tie the game up by the end of the second inning, but a walk in the fourth inning combined with a two-run single did the team in, with the final score of 7–4 in favor of the Griffins.
Despite dropping the first two games of the season, the team has a positive outlook and high expectations for the future. Returning for the Maroons are the majority of last year’s starters, excluding first and third base, with five third-years who started 29-plus games. The maturity and experience of the upperclassmen, combined with the strong offense from last year and a talented new lineup of first-years, will allow the Maroons to fight and compete all year. Third-year catcher Ian Bohn speculated on the upcoming season, “It’s obviously hard to tell this early on in the season but I think we have a much-improved pitching staff and a lot of returners offensively. If we can throw strikes and play defense I think we have a chance to win some games.”
Each of the past three seasons under head coach John Fitzgerald has been more successful than the one before, starting with a .474 winning percentage in 2015 all the way to a .595, 22–15 overall finish in 2017. The team will look to build on the success of the past few years, and keep the ball rolling with an ever-better finish this year. The Maroons have put in hard work over the offseason, and are excited to take the field and bring home victories. Some notable games for the upcoming season are rematches with Case Western and Grinnell, as well as three against Caltech.
“This offseason has been shorter than usual due to our opening weekend being pushed up a week but I think we’ve taken advantage of our reps inside and have meshed well over the last month or so,” Bohn added. “I’m looking forward to the upcoming weekend and our trip to Texas over spring break.”
The Maroons will take on Dubuque and Greenville this Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3.p.m, respectively, and Grinnell on Sunday in Greenville, IL, at 1 p.m.