Baseball sweeps four-game weekend
The Bears fell behind 8-0 to Wheaton after only two innings Saturday but inched back with three runs in the third inning, five in the fifth and one in the seventh. Wheaton had tacked on one more run in the top of the fifth, so the game went into extra innings knotted at nine. A walk-off hit over the center fielder’s head by freshman designated hitter Chris Lowery in the 12th inning sealed the Bears’ comeback.
“One thing that I admire so much about this group of guys is that an eight-run deficit doesn’t scare them. … It wasn’t a position we wanted to be in, but it wasn’t anything we were afraid of,” head coach Steve Duncan said. “The guys did a tremendous job responding to that challenge, and I’m not sure if Wheaton put it on cruise control or what, but if you’ve got a lead against us, you better keep adding to it because we’re going to find a way to get on the board.”
The Bears opened Friday with a 7-3 win over Wisconsin-Platteville and defeated Wheaton 5-3 in a seven-inning game called early because of rain and wet field conditions. The Bears followed their extra-inning triumph over Wheaton with a 7-2 victory against Wisconsin-Platteville.
Senior outfielder Brandon Rogalski’s seven-for-12 weekend put him third on the school’s career hits list with 183. Rogalski’s parents flew in from South Carolina for the weekend to see their son also move to seventh in RBIs (121) and fifth in stolen bases (44).
“I’ve had a few other personal achievements from last year and coming into this year, and they’re very important to me, and it’ll be nice to look back on them,” Rogalski said. “But living in the present right now, that’s not what’s important. What’s important is making the playoffs.”
Despite stranding 19 runners total in their two Friday games, the Red and Green received some timely hitting and, perhaps, some timely weather.
Against Wisconsin-Platteville, the Bears scored four runs in the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie. With two runners on base, freshman shortstop Andrew Goldstick slapped an RBI single to right-center field. Rogalski capped off a three-for-five game with another run-scoring single. A bases-loaded error by the Pioneers’ second baseman allowed two more runs to score.
Sophomore pitcher Brendan Rooney picked up the win in five innings of relief, surrendering one run on three hits.
Later that afternoon against Wheaton, the Bears’ 5-0 lead was unraveling in the eighth inning before the umpires called the game. The Thunder had scored three runs when the contest was ended with two outs and the bases loaded.
Wheaton came out looking for revenge Saturday, lighting up Wash. U. starting pitcher Matt Kenahan, a sophomore, for eight runs (four earned) in the first inning alone. Junior Ryan Furtick and freshman Max Zhang combined for 11 innings in relief while the Bears built their rally. After scoring three runs in the third inning, the Bears drew four walks in the fifth, picked up two singles and benefitted from a Wheaton error to narrow their deficit to one run. Sophomore centerfielder Kyle Billig scored the tying run in the seventh on a double play groundout by Rogalski.
In the final game of the weekend, Wisconsin-Platteville second baseman Trevor Kattre put his team ahead with a homerun on the first pitch of the first inning, but Wash. U. responded with seven straight runs. Rogalski went four-for-five with two RBIs. Junior pitcher Max Gordon gave up two runs in seven innings of work to pick up the win.
The Bears are on a five-game winning streak, and their record stands at 17-6.
“All those five games were regional games against quality opponents, and we’ve improved our regional record to 17-3,” Duncan said. “So just over the halfway point of the season, we’re off to a great start. …Those were huge wins. That Wheaton team we played is maybe the best lineup we’ve seen all year, and we were able to really limit its offensive production with the exception of a couple innings at the beginning of [Saturday’s] game.”
The Bears play three times against St. Norbert College next weekend in games six through eight of an 11-game homestand.