CHICAGO – The University of Chicago baseball team built up a big lead and then weathered a late rally by Illinois Institute of Technology to win 8-6 on Saturday afternoon.
The Maroons (19-11 record) and the Scarlet Hawks (11-26) played each other in the South Side Classic hosted at Guaranteed Rate Field, which serves as the home of the Chicago White Sox. The two teams previously played each other at the Major League Baseball park in 2011.
When UChicago got runners on the base paths, they showed plenty of aggression. The Maroons stole a season-high seven bases on the day, taking advantage of situations and IIT pitcher windups. Sophomore outfielder Connor Hickey personified that ethos in the top of the third inning. After getting hit by a pitch, Hickey took off for second base on a pick-off attempt and still beat the relay throw from first. He then promptly stole third base without a throw. A squeeze bunt by sophomore second baseman Max Brzostowski allowed Hickey to score as the outfielder slid around the catcher's tag.
A double steal put two runners in scoring position for sophomore catcher Ian Bohn, who singled through the right side to drive in one. Freshman designated hitter Payton Jancsy reached on a fielder's choice to force in another at 3-0.
On the other side, UChicago starting pitcher Joe Liberman kept IIT off the scoreboard for all five of his innings. While the sophomore righty ran into numerous full counts, he only allowed one hit and earned critical outs to end innings. He ended up getting the win to improve to 3-1, walking three and striking out four.
The offense provided more scoring in the sixth. Sophomore outfielder Josh Parks struck a looping single to shallow right field to score one run. Five batters later with the bases full, junior outfielder Maximiliano Larsen singled through the right side to score two more and make it 6-0.
Two more crucial runs came around in the seventh. Jancsy singled, stole second base and moved to third on a groundout. Parks hit a deep sacrifice fly to right field to bring him home. After senior shortstop Ryan Krob lasered a double to the left field corner, senior third baseman Tim Sonnefeldt singled up the middle to push the lead to 8-0.
But things went sideways for UChicago's relief pitchers. Illinois Tech loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh thanks to two walks and a hit by pitch. The Scarlet Hawks ended up scoring three runs on only one hit and two groundouts.
IIT struck again with another bases loaded situation in the eighth with no outs. A walk, a fielder's choice and an error chopped the deficit all the way down to 8-6. However, freshman pitcher Patrick Rogers came up clutch by striking out the next two batters looking to escape.
Rogers closed out the ninth inning for his first career collegiate save. He ended the game with a 5-4-3 double play. Rogers went two innings with no hits, one walk and three strikeouts. Freshman Arno Curtis and sophomore Ravi Bakhai also pitched two innings of relief earlier.
UChicago totaled 10 hits offensively but committed four errors defensively. Hickey, Brzostowski and Jancsy all stole two bases each. Larsen went 2-for-4 with two RBI, one walk and one steal. Bohn hit 2-for-5 with one RBI.
- Sunday, May 7 @ Noon – Illinois Tech at UChicago (DH)