UChicago Baseball Grabs a Pair of Wins against Caltech, 7-4 and 15-1

Connor Hickey and Brian Lyle
Connor Hickey and Brian Lyle

CHICAGO – The University of Chicago baseball team began its final home stand of year with a 22-run outburst to seize both games of a Saturday afternoon doubleheader from visiting California Institute of Technology.

The Maroons (21-9 record) have now won 12 of their past 14 games. The Beavers dropped to 4-32 on the year.

The first contest ended 7-4 in favor of the hosts as a five-run second inning gave UChicago the cushion it needed to fend off a late Caltech rally. Junior righthander Brenton Villasenor battled for six innings to earn the win, yielding 10 hits but holding the Beavers to three runs while striking out five. First-year reliever David Clarke came on for the save in the final inning.

In the second game of the day, Caltech and UChicago traded runs before the Maroons blew the game open in the seventh inning. Junior outfielder Josh Parks mashed a three-run homer and the home team never looked back en route to a 15-1 victory. Junior pitcher Jacob Petersen – the winner for the Maroons – racked up nine strikeouts in 6.2 innings. Relievers Patrick Murphy, Arno Curtis and Scott Rothschild combined to finish off a team pitching effort that held the Beavers to just two hits. The four UChicago pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts.

Game One – UChicago 7, Caltech 4

Caltech threatened to score in the top of the first as a pair of leadoff singles put runners on first and third with no outs. UChicago got out of the jam with the help of an unusual double play that resulted from a call of batter's interference on a third-strike steal attempt.

In the bottom of the second, the Maroons worked runners around the bases as three hits, two walks, and two defensive errors led to five runs. Junior first baseman Brady Sarkon got things going with a leadoff single. A walk and a wild pitch put runners on second and third for sophomore third baseman Drew Ventrelle, whose groundout drove in Sarkon. First-year shortstop Brian Lyle plated another run with a bunt single, then stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw. Lyle scored as junior outfielder Connor Hickey beat out an infield single. The Maroons picked up two more runs when junior catcher Ian Bohn drove a high fly ball down the line that the Beavers' right fielder could not track down in the swirling wind.

Caltech responded immediately with a run in the top of the third, but a double play and a strikeout snuffed out the incipient rally. In the bottom of the frame, UChicago once again moved Sarkon around after a leadoff single, with another grounder from Ventrelle bringing him in.

The Maroons pushed their tally to seven runs in the bottom of the fourth as Parks grounded out to score senior outfielder Maximiliano Larsen. From then on out, it would be up to the defense. A pair of doubles sparked a Caltech rally in the top of the sixth, with the Beavers scoring three. Another leadoff double in the top of the seventh hinted at more trouble, but when a Beaver baserunner left too early for third on a fly ball to right, the Maroons alertly touched second base for a double play. Clarke then induced a groundout to end the ballgame for his sixth save of the season.

UChicago finished with seven hits and one error. Hickey went 2-for-3 with one RBI, one walk and one stolen base. Sarkon and Lyle (one RBI) were also 2-for-3.

Game Two – UChicago 15, Caltech 1

The Maroons kept up the offensive pressure in the top of the first, filling the bases before a grounder from Parks and triple from Sarkon scored a pair of runs.

Both pitchers worked efficiently in the early going, as the teams combined for only three hits in the first four innings. Over the course of the opening three frames, Peterson struck out six batters in-a-row, with five going down swinging.

When Caltech pushed a run across in the top of the fourth to make the score 2-1, it seemed like a big moment in a tight pitcher's duel. The Maroons, however, created a bit of breathing room in the bottom of the fifth. Ventrelle led off with a walk and moved to second as Lyle laid down a well-placed bunt single. After a sacrifice put both runners in scoring position, Ventrelle raced home on a wild pitch and Lyle followed as Larsen ripped a single up the middle.

Eight runs on eight hits in the bottom of the seventh inning sealed the game. Hickey's RBI triple looked to be the hit of the day until Parks followed up with his blast over the fence in right-center field. A pitching change couldn't stop the Maroons as sophomore designated hitter Payton Jancsy slapped a RBI single to right. Hickey and Larsen did the same, and the score stood at 12-1.

UChicago tacked on three more in the bottom of the eighth as Lyle belted a two-run double and Hickey added his fourth RBI of the day.

The Maroons tallied 14 hits and one error in game two. Parks was 3-for-5 with three RBI, and Lyle hit 3-for-4 with one RBI. Hickey (three RBI) and Sarkon (one RBI) registered two hits apiece.

Petersen's win was his seventh of the year. He has only allowed one run over his last five appearances, spanning 25.2 innings.

NEXT GAME:

  • Sunday, April 29 @ 12:00 PM – Caltech at UChicago