Baseball swept in triple-header at Chicago
“They were a very good hitting team––one of the best that we’ve seen all year––and we just didn’t get any breaks. We kind of fell apart at the end of the first game, but we started to battle in the second and third games,” said senior Adam Merzel, the starting pitcher. “We just came up a little bit short. You have to put good teams away, and we didn’t do that.”
The Bears started the day with a crushing 17-3 loss in the first game. Though the Maroons led by just two after four innings, they broke the game open with 12 runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Merzel allowed 12 hits and seven earned runs in four innings of work, but he faced just two batters in the 12-run inning.
“I just have to give them a lot of credit because they hit every one of my mistakes,” Merzel said. “I didn’t get away with a lot of pitches, and they even hit some pitches that weren’t mistakes. If I threw a…pitch that was even remotely hittable, they got the bat on the ball.”
After two hits to start the fifth inning, junior Michael Fletcher was brought in for relief, but he struggled to get outs as well. The Bears faced 13 batters, and needed another pitcher, before recording the first out of the inning. They gave up eight hits and committed three errors to allow 12 runs in all.
“It was pretty unexpected. We came in and just got destroyed in the first game. We were expecting Chicago to be good, but not be that good,” senior Travis May said. “So I think [during] the next games [we were experiencing] kind of a little hangover from that first game.”
Sophomore Stephen Bonser, the starting pitcher in the second leg, fared no better. He pitched six innings and gave up seven earned runs and 13 hits in a 7-4 loss.
While Wash. U. was held scoreless until the top of the fourth, Chicago scored one run in each of the first two innings and pushed across three in the third on a two-run homer and an RBI triple.
“They have a team that’s [full of] sinkerballers and groundball pitchers…and that’s what they did to us all day,” May said. “Their pitchers were keeping balls low and getting us to just ground out one after the next.”
May knocked in the Bears’ first three runs of the game, on an RBI single in the fourth and a two-run double in the sixth, but the team could not come back from the initial 5-0 deficit.
The final game of the tripleheader was the closest, but Chicago still came out on top, defeating Wash. U. 5-4.
“Playing a triple-header is rough, and I hope we never have to do that again, but it’s tough being the team that’s lost the first two and you have to come out and play another one,” May said. “It was crazy conditions there: 25-mile-an-hour and 30-mile-an-hour winds going out to left field, and they just kept hitting pop flies that would go over the fence. Our pitchers were really frustrated; all our fielders were pretty frustrated, just sitting there and watching that when we weren’t capitalizing on it.”
Senior catcher Joe Noon’s bases-loaded groundout in the second inning gave the Bears their first lead of the day, but that lead would be short-lived. The Maroons tied the game 1-1 in the third and put up four runs on six hits an inning later.
Junior Brandon Rogalski and senior Matt Skinner hit back-to-back RBI doubles in the fifth, and senior Ben Ingell had an RBI single in the sixth, but the team would be held scoreless in the seventh to end the game.
Wash. U. (25-16, 3-3) will return home to take on Millikin University on Thursday. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Utz Stadium.
“We realize that we still have a legitimate shot to make the [playoffs], and if we take care of business like we know we can the last couple games of the year, we’re going to have a very respectable winning percentage and an admiral strength of schedule,” Merzel said. “The regional committee definitely respects playing good teams and beating good opponents, and we have done that.”