CHICAGO – The University of Chicago opened up Saturday's doubleheader by pouncing on Finlandia University's miscues and rode a big first inning to a 13-2 victory. But self-inflicted damage ultimately caught up to the Maroons late in game two as the visitors rallied to win 7-3.
The Maroons moved to 12-5 on the season, while the Lions ran their record to 4-16.
Game One – UChicago 13, Finlandia 2
A wild first inning set the tone for game one. UChicago racked up six runs in the bottom of the first on only three hits, benefitting mainly from six walks. Sophomore outfielder Connor Hickey led off with a walk, stole second base and soon scored on a passed ball. With the bases loaded, sophomore outfielder Josh Parks knocked a two-run single up the middle. A wild pitch and a fielder's choice brought in two more runs, and junior outfielder Maximiliano Larsen closed out the scoring with a bases-loaded walk.
After allowing a run-scoring double in the top of the first, UChicago ace Brenton Villasenor cruised through the next three innings while working at a fast pace that threw off the batters. The sophomore pitcher struck out six batters in his four innings of work to improve his season record to a team-best 5-0.
By the time Villasenor's afternoon was done, the home team had staked itself to a massive 10-1 advantage. Hickey provided fireworks in the bottom of the third, tripling to left center and reaching home after the errant relay throw skipped past third base. Another run-scoring wild pitch and sophomore designated hitter Brady Sarkon's RBI single up the middle highlighted the fourth inning.
The Maroons closed it out with three more tallies in the sixth. RBI singles by freshman shortstop Drew Ventrelle and Larsen were sandwiched around an error.
All told, UChicago drew nine walks and knocked 10 hits. Hickey (one RBI, three runs) and Larsen (two RBI) both hit 2-for-4 at the top of the order. Freshman Jon Kruppe and junior Chase Packard combined to throw the final three innings.
Game Two – Finlandia 7, UChicago 3
Nate Hendley was handed the ball to start game two, and the freshman pitcher's powerful fastball flew past overmatched Finlandia hitters. Hendley only allowed one hit in 5.1 innings of work; however, he was hampered by a questionable strike zone that helped contribute to six walks. He also struck out six by alternating his pitch planes from knee height up to shoulder-high heat that batters couldn't catch up with.
Finlandia's starting pitcher kept UChicago's hitters ground bound with an effective curveball and diving action on his pitches that forced a plethora of groundouts. Base-running gaffes also halted the team's scoring opportunities – one runner was thrown out at home in a rundown in the bottom of the third and another was cut down at third base in the fourth frame.
Parks' RBI groundout in the second inning provided an early 1-0 lead, which expanded to 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth thanks to singles by Larsen and sophomore catcher Ian Bohn.
But the sixth and seventh innings proved troublesome. The Lions waited out the pitchers, worked deep counts and capitalized on its five hits by scoring seven runs. UChicago walked five batters and committed an error during the rally.
The Maroons tallied eight hits, three stolen bases and two errors. Larsen kept swinging a hot bat by going 3-for-4 with one RBI.
- Sunday, April 9 @ Noon – Finlandia at UChicago (DH)