Maroon baseball captures weekend series over Finlandia

Connor Hickey and Thomas Prescott
Connor Hickey and Thomas Prescott

CHICAGO – The University of Chicago baseball team wrapped up its four-game series against Finlandia University with a pair of victories on Sunday that including a walk-off bunt.

The Maroons (14-5 record) have won nine of their past 10 games. The Lions fell to 4-18.


Game One – UChicago 4, Finlandia 3

The opening contest of the day ended in dramatic fashion. UChicago was one strike away from closing out a 3-2 victory in the top of the seventh inning. But the Finlandia batter's defensive swing poked the ball down the right field line to score the tying run from second base.

The Maroons quickly rebounded in its half of the seventh. Senior third baseman Tim Sonnefeldt looped a hanging fly ball to the opposite field that landed just fair. He motored around to second base and slid in for a leadoff double. A sacrifice bunt effectively moved Sonnefeldt to third base and within 90 feet of the plate.

Sophomore outfielder Connor Hickey then strode to the plate with the game on his bat. After he pulled back a squeeze bunt attempt on the first pitch, Finlandia's infielders encroached onto the infield grass even further. It was to no avail. The very next pitch, Hickey skillfully threw down a bunt single that rolled to the triangle of unoccupied space between the pitcher, the first baseman and the second basemen. Sonnefeldt was halfway down the line by the time the ball bounced off the bat and scored standing up to walk off with the 4-3 win.

UChicago wasted no time at the game's onset. Hickey drew a walk and immediately stole second base. At the plate, junior outfielder Max Larsen launched a scalding triple to right field to drive home Hickey. Senior first baseman Thomas Prescott manufactured a RBI groundout to make it 2-0.

In the second inning, sophomore shortstop Max Brzostowski singled to right field to increase the lead to 3-0. Finlandia answered in its next at bat in the third inning by loading the bases with no outs. A two-run single to center field cut the deficit to 3-2. But sophomore pitcher Joe Liberman buckled down, striking out the next two batters looking and forcing a grounder to escape without further damage.

Freshman pitcher Patrick Murphy relieved in the fifth inning and was cruising until the two-out double tied the game. He tallied his first collegiate victory with three innings of work that included three strikeouts, one run and two hits. Liberman started the game and struck out five in four innings to go with two runs, five hits and one walk.

UChicago posted seven hits, three stolen bases and one error. Sophomore outfielder Josh Parks was 2-for-3 at the dish.


Game Two – UChicago 11, Finlandia 4

The second game of the doubleheader followed a similar script, with UChicago jumping out to a lead and the Lions clawing back to tie.

A throwing error in the first inning made it 1-0 Maroons, then Hickey singled in Sonnefeldt once more in the bottom of the second. Two singles and a sacrifice bunt put two runners in scoring position for senior outfielder Nicholas Toomey in the third inning, and Toomey lashed a two-run double the other way.

Finlandia erased the 4-0 deficit in the fourth with a quartet of unearned runs. Once again, the Maroons hitters had a quick answer in the bottom of the frame. Prescott was robbed of a home run earlier in the game by gusty winds blowing in from right field. So this time, the senior lefty launched a two-run double to deep left center to put his team ahead for good at 6-4.

The floodgates opened from there with three scores in the fifth and two more in the sixth. A trio of RBI singles came courtesy of Sonnefeldt, Hickey and Larsen. Sophomore shortstop Justin Lo capped the proceedings with a long two-run homer to left field.

All told, UChicago racked up 13 hits offensively and two errors defensively. Hickey paced the team with a 3-for-4 performance with two RBI. Larsen went 2-for-3 with one RBI, while Prescott (two RBI) and Sarkon both hit 2-for-4.

Freshman Jacob Petersen improved his pitching record to 4-0. He started the game and went four innings. Junior Ricardo Fernandez whiffed three batters in two innings of relief and junior Michael Davis closed out the seventh inning with two strikeouts.


NEXT GAME:

  • Wednesday, April 12 @ 3:30 PM – Dominican at UChicago