CHICAGO – The University of Chicago baseball team received a dominating effort from its pitching staff and only surrendered one run in 14 innings to sweep Robert Morris University Peoria in Saturday's doubleheader.
The pair of one-run victories helped the Maroons even their season record at 8-8.
Game One – UChicago 1, Robert Morris 0
UChicago delivered with the game's lone run in the bottom of the sixth to capture the afternoon's pitching duel. The Maroons were limited to five hits in the game as cold weather in the mid-30s suppressed both offenses throughout the day.
Freshman pitcher Joe Liberman, in his fourth appearance and third start of the year, turned in seven stellar innings for the best performance of his UChicago career to date. The righthander lived down in the zone as usual, mixing his fastball and breaking ball effectively all game. He struck out six while allowing two walks and eight hits. Liberman lowered his season ERA to 1.27 and upped his pitching record to 2-1.
Neither team scored throughout the first five innings with both teams struggling to deliver the pivotal hit with a runner in scoring position. Liberman stranded nine Eagles and escaped jams that arose. After walking the first two batters of the game, the Maroon freshman induced a pop up to the catcher, struck out the Eagles' cleanup hitter and ultimately stranded the bases loaded as he fielded a comebacker for the third out of the inning.
Robert Morris pitcher T.R. Dunne equaled Liberman with a lively fastball and diving curveball that moved all over the plate for strikes. He threw all six innings for the Eagles with six strikeouts. But in the bottom of the sixth, the Maroons made their move. Freshman outfielder Connor Hickey was hit by a pitch to give UChicago a base runner and sophomore first baseman Michael Davis singled to put runners at the corners. Then freshman catcher Ian Bohn delivered the first elusive RBI hit with a chopper into the hole at shortstop to give the Maroons a 1-0 lead.
With the one-run lead, Liberman was accordingly sent out to get the final three outs in the seventh. Two singles in the first three batters of the frame put runners at first and second, and suddenly the visitors were threatening. Liberman got Dunne to ground out to third base for the second out of the inning, but both runners advanced. As the game hung in the balance, the freshman pitcher delivered, freezing the three-spot hitter with a breaking ball to end the game on a strikeout.
Davis went 2-for-3 at the plate to lead UChicago's hitters. Liberman ended up throwing 77 of his 108 pitches for strikes (71 percent).
Game Two – UChicago 2, Robert Morris 1
The Maroons took the night cap 2-1 behind a big fourth inning for their second one-run win of the day.
It was a sloppy second game for both UChicago and Robert Morris in the field. The teams made five combined errors with the Maroons committing two. The Eagles got their lone run on a fourth-inning wild pitch, while only one of the two Maroon runs was earned. UChicago had five hits and worked three free passes, with Hickey and senior catcher Tim Sonnefeldt reaching base twice.
Sophomore pitcher Ricardo Fernandez started the game for the Maroons, going four innings of one-run, five-hit, four-walk, four-strikeout baseball to earn his first win of the year. Freshman Alex McGimpsey delivered his first career save by throwing three innings of shutout baseball.
After the Eagles jumped ahead 1-0 in the top of the fourth, UChicago got to business in the bottom half of the inning. Sonnefeldt singled to start the inning, and then with one out, sophomore outfielder Max Larsen smoked a high-arcing double to the center field fence to bring Sonnefeldt all the way around the bases to tie the game. A pop fly to first base had the potential to end the inning, but the ball squiggled out of the glove and allowed Larsen to score from second base.
UChicago got the final nine outs from McGimpsey, who pitched to contact and relied on his defense. The tying run reached third base with one out left in the game. But another ground ball to the infield clinched the win for the home team.
- Sunday, April 10 – Lawrence University at UChicago (DH), Noon