CHICAGO – After suffering a pair of low-scoring losses the previous day, the University of Chicago baseball team woke up the bats and bashed their way to a pair of home victories 11-5 and 10-0 against Ripon College on Saturday afternoon.
The Maroons improved their season record to 15-6 overall and 4-2 in the Midwest Conference North Division. The Red Hawks fell to 13-12 overall (7-5 MWC), snapping their eight-game win streak.
Connor Hickey made history on Saturday as well. UChicago's senior center fielder crossed home plate four times in the doubleheader to set a new all-time school record for runs scored with 146. The previous record holder was Jack Cinoman (2010-13) with 144.
Game One – UChicago 11, Ripon 5
During Friday's doubleheader at Ripon, the Maroons were held to a mere three runs combined. In the second inning of Saturday's opening contest, UChicago plated five. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Hickey, who worked a walk himself to bring one home. Junior outfielder Payton Jancsy stroked an RBI single to left before senior catcher Ian Bohn lined a two-run single the opposite way to right field. Senior first baseman Brady Sarkon added to the hit parade with an RBI single to left center.
Starting pitcher Sam Bennett was cruising along through the first two innings, striking out four of the seven batters he faced. However, the rookie encountered turbulence in the third inning. With runners on the corners, he was called for a balk which allowed one runner across. An RBI single up the middle made it 5-2. But Bennett eventually ended the inning with a strikeout.
A wild pitch cut the lead to 5-3 in the top of the fourth and UChicago soon called upon senior Joe Liberman to take the hill. The righty excelled in his extended relief outing, striking out three in 2.1 scoreless innings. He eventually earned the win to move to 2-0.
The Maroons experienced a near-miss opportunity in the bottom of the third by stranding the bases loaded. However, with two outs in the fifth inning, first-year third baseman Carson Weekley was the beneficiary of a two-out fielding error. Hickey made the Red Hawks pay by cranking a two-run homer over the right-field fence. Jancsy followed up immediately with a double to the left center gap, and sophomore shortstop Brian Lyle brought him in with a single.
The lead expanded again with a trio of runs in the seventh. With runners on, Lyle threw down an expertly-laid bunt down the third base line that he beat out. A wild throw from the third baseman allowed one run to score on the play, then another infield error the next batter made the score 10-3. Sarkon's RBI fielder's choice accounted for the 11th tally of the day.
Ripon scored a pair of unearned runs in the ninth before the Maroons shut the door. The hosts ended up with 15 hits and two errors on defense. Hickey led the charge by going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI. Jancsy was 3-for-4 with an RBI in the leadoff spot. Lyle and first-year second baseman Benjamin Rosengard were each 2-for-5 at the plate.
Game Two – UChicago 10, Ripon 0
A defensive miscue extended the bottom of the first inning in game two, and UChicago capitalized. Rosengard stroked an RBI double down the left field line for an unearned run.
The Maroons ran into the trouble in the top of the third with runners on the corners and one out. Sophomore pitcher Zach Morochnik was summoned from the bullpen, and the move paid immediate dividends as he induced a 6-4-3 double-play grounder to squash the danger.
That inning proved to be the last threat Ripon would muster. The visiting Red Hawks only managed one hit in seven innings as Morochnik silenced the bats with a low fastball and slow, sweeping curveball. He earned the victory with 3.2 innings of work that included five strikeouts and one walk.
With Morochnik in control, UChicago's offense scored at least once in each of the remaining innings. Two walks and a Bohn double loaded the bases in the bottom of the third. Rosengard's fielder's choice scored one and Weekley drew a walk to fill the bags once more. After a pitching change, senior left fielder Josh Parks plated another with a grounder. Then first-year catcher Brett Riegler got in on the fireworks with a two-run single to right center.
One-run singles came courtesy of Bohn and Weekley in the fourth inning. The remaining frames featured RBI from Jancsy on a squeeze bunt, Parks on a single and Jancsy with a double to left. That last hit ended the game early in the bottom of the seventh via the 10-run rule.
UChicago finished with 14 hits in the contest as all nine starters collected at least one hit. Hickey was 3-for-4 again while Bohn, Riegler and Rosengard mustered two hits apiece. Lyle went 1-for-1 with three walks drawn.
The Maroon pitching staff tallied 11 more strikeouts to run the day's total to 25 over the course of only 16 innings. Junior Nate Hendley made the start, going 2.1 innings with three walks and three strikeouts. Junior Patrick Rogers threw a sensational seventh inning, striking out all three batters he saw.
- Monday, April 22 @ 12:00 PM – Lawrence University at UChicago (DH)