SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Five outstanding innings from senior right-hander Joe Liberman set the stage for a dramatic finish as a tenth-inning single from first-year Benjamin Rosengard lifted the University of Chicago baseball team to a thrilling 4-3 win over No. 1-ranked Trinity University (Texas) on Monday night.
The Maroons twice came from behind to even up the contest, first on a two-run single from senior left fielder Josh Parks in the top of the fourth. It looked like Trinity might have taken the lead for good in the fifth inning until senior center fielder Connor Hickey drove in a late equalizer in the bottom of the ninth. It had been a team effort to manufacture the tying run and UChicago replicated the feat in the first extra frame to claim the victory.
UChicago now boasts a 7-2 mark early in its season as Trinity's record stands at 17-6.
Liberman (1-0 record) earned a deserved win with superb stint in long relief, working through five innings in just 52 pitches and racking up seven strikeouts while allowing only one hit.
Junior righty Jacob Petersen shouldered the pitching load for the Maroons early on, tossing 106 pitches over the first five innings. He conceded six hits and three runs, striking out four with three walks.
Senior catcher Ian Bohn made a crucial offensive contribution as he scored two runs from two leadoff singles, including the eventual game-winner. Sophomore shortstop Brian Lyle also did his part at the plate, going 2-for-3 and laying down a sacrifice bunt.
The Maroons amassed 10 hits as a team. The Tigers compiled seven hits and did damage on the base paths with five steals, but also committed three fielding errors. Both squads let scoring chances slip away at times, with each stranding eight runners.
UChicago trailed early after Trinity's leadoff hitter reached on a single, stole second and third, then scored on a grounder to shortstop. The deficit doubled in the bottom of the second as a pair of singles drove another run across for the Tigers.
The Maroons broke through in the top of the fourth inning as Bohn poked a single to right, the first ball to leave the infield for the visitors. Senior designated hitter Brady Sarkon was then hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second for Parks with none out. Parks obliged with a drive to the left field corner that scored both his teammates to tie the game at 2-2.
After Trinity executed a successful pickoff, Rosengard singled and moved up to second on a wild pitch. Two hard-hit outs denied UChicago the chance to go ahead, but not before chasing Trinity's starter from the mound.
Petersen worked hard to keep it even in the bottom of the frame, twice earning called third strikes on full counts. As he ticked over the 100-pitch mark in the fifth, however, the Tigers put runners on with a walk and a single. The pair advanced twice on wild pitches to put the home team back ahead.
Liberman took control in the sixth and retired the Tigers with three commanding strikeouts, holding the margin at one and providing the Maroons an opportunity to respond in the top of the seventh. An infield hit, a bunt single, and a wild pitch left the tying run 90 feet away with two gone. UChicago's attempted squeeze play resulted in the third out.
The eighth inning brought the Maroons close yet again. After Bohn grounded out, Sarkon drew a full-count walk and Parks slashed a low single to right field. A pitch to the backstop left Parks on second and junior Drew Ventrelle pinch running on third. Neither could advance as a grounder and pop fly ended the scoring threat.
Another clean frame from Liberman provided UChicago a sliver of hope entering the ninth inning. Sophomore pinch hitter Joseph Burns worked the count full as he drew a leadoff walk, prompting a pitching change from the Tigers. Lyle then placed a sacrifice along the third-base line to put Burns in scoring position for the top of the Maroon order. The leadoff man Hickey delivered, slicing a single to shallow left field as Burns raced home to tie the game.
Liberman denied the Tigers any opportunity to answer in the bottom of the ninth, racking up two more strikeouts and forcing a pop-up to send the contest to extra innings.
Bohn knocked another single to right field to start off the tenth. UChicago turned to small ball again as a pinch-hit bunt from senior Max Brzostowski moved Bohn to second, but a subsequent strikeout put the Tigers on the brink of escaping the jam. Stepping to the plate for just the 24th time in his collegiate career, however, Rosengard drilled a 2-2 pitch back up the middle and Bohn came around to put the Maroons ahead 4-3.
After drawing a groundout to open the bottom of the inning, Liberman closed out the game in style, snagging a sliding catch in foul territory near the Maroon dugout before an emphatic swinging strikeout.
- Tuesday, Mar. 26 @ 7:00 PM – UChicago at Texas Lutheran University