CLEVELAND – On the final day of the regular season, the University of Chicago baseball team dropped both games of a doubleheader at Case Western Reserve University on Sunday. The Maroons (26-13 record) put themselves in position to win the first contest before suffering a 7-6 loss and could not dig their way out of an early hole in the second, eventually falling 11-4.
Senior rightfielder Maximiliano Larsen provided the offensive firepower and closed his career with a bang. He batted 5-for-8 on the day, driving in four runs and scoring three. Larsen, the program's all-time leader in doubles, smashed five more to push his career total to 60.
UChicago's 26 wins tied the school record for victories in a season.
Game One – CWRU 7, UChicago 6
Sophomore Jacob Petersen started the first game for the Maroons, allowing four runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. Junior righthander Ravi Bakhai tossed 3.1 innings in relief, allowing just one hit and one unearned run. First-year David Clarke came on to close out the ninth. He struck out two but allowed two runs, suffering the loss.
The day started off well for the visitors as two runs crossed in the top of the first inning. Junior centerfielder Connor Hickey reached on a leadoff walk, allowing Larsen to drive him in with an RBI double. Junior leftfielder Josh Parks then knocked a double down the right field line to score Larsen.
UChicago padded its lead in the next inning after the leadoff hitter again reached first, this time as first-year second baseman James Kelly was hit by a pitch. A single from sophomore third baseman Drew Ventrelle moved Kelly to third, allowing him to score on a grounder from first-year shortstop Brian Lyle. After Ventrelle advanced to third on a wild pitch, Larsen brought him home with another double. The Maroons found themselves up 4-0 after two frames.
Case Western Reserve trimmed the lead in the bottom of the third. The Spartans loaded the bases twice but Petersen held them to three runs, keeping UChicago out in front by a one-run margin.
The Maroons responded right away, with Lyle reaching base on an error and Hickey rapping a single. That set the table for Larsen, whose third double in as many times at the plate drove both men in to extend the lead to 6-3.
As the UChicago bats quieted down, the Spartans crept back into the game, notching runs in the fifth and eight innings.
Clarke, the Maroons' single-season saves leader, entered in the bottom of the ninth with his team holding a 6-5 advantage. He struck out the leadoff man, but the ball escaped and the hitter reached first. CWRU bunted the runner over, then Clarke struck out a second batter for the first out. A single followed, tying the contest at six runs apiece. After a successful steal put the winning run in scoring position, the Spartans knocked a two-strike double into left center for the walk-off victory.
UChicago tallied eight hits and one error. Larsen was 3-for-5 with four RBI.
Game Two – CWRU 11, UChicago 4
Coming off a tough loss, the Maroons had no respite as Case Western Reserve jumped on the visitors in the first inning for six runs off of five hits, an error and a wild pitch. First-year starting pitcher Chandler Yu recorded one out before classmate Zach Morochnik came on to relieve him.
UChicago began to work its way back into the game in the fourth. Hickey once again got things going with a leadoff walk, and yet another double from Larsen moved him over to third. With two men in scoring position, junior catcher Ian Bohn came through with a single that cut the deficit to 6-2.
The Spartans got those runs back in the fifth, then added one more in the seventh and two more in the eighth.
UChicago, trailing 11-2, fought to assemble one last effort in the final inning. Larsen, the first man up, walked on seven pitches. Senior Matt Slodzinski, pinch hitting, singled after fouling off three pitches to extend his at-bat. Parks worked his way out of a 0-2 hole to bring the count full, fouled off three pitches, then walked to load the bases. A sacrifice fly from junior first baseman Brady Sarkon brought one in before sophomore designated hitter Payton Jancsy doubled, scoring Slodzinski. That would be all the offense the Maroons could muster, and the final tally sat 11-4 in favor of the hosts.
Morochnik conceded one unearned run and three hits in 3.2 innings. Sophomore Patrick Murphy, sophomore Patrick Rogers and junior Joe Liberman each contributed an inning of relief. Senior Ricardo Fernandez took the mound for the final frame.
The Maroons once again posted eight hits and one error. Larsen hit 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles.