Baseball wins two vs. Chicago

and | Sports Staff

Brian Benton | Student Life

Junior Kyle Billig follows through on a swing that sent a pitch foul down the left field line during the Washington University baseball team’s 10-7 loss to Webster University on April 24. Billig was 6-14 with a home run and a double in this weekend’s four games versus the University of Chicago.

In a crucial weekend in terms of its regional standing, the Washington University baseball team split four matches with conference rival University of Chicago this past weekend, winning and losing one match each on Saturday and Sunday.

The games left the Bears at 22-14 overall in 2013 with four games left in the regular season.

“I think we were a little disappointed with this weekend. We went in with the goal of winning all four games,” junior Kyle Billig said. “I don’t think we played up to our potential in the games we lost.”

Entering the weekend ranked fifth in the Central Region, the Bears split Saturday’s doubleheader against Chicago with a 4-1 loss and 3-0 win, both in seven-inning games. Wash. U.’s usually potent bats went silent in game one, recording only five hits and wasting a mostly solid complete-game effort from senior pitcher Stephen Bonser, who gave up only one earned run. A third-inning throwing error by sophomore Chris Lowery led to three unearned runs in the inning for Chicago, although Bonser allowed four consecutive hits with two outs. 

The Bears’ hitting got going early in the second game of the doubleheader. Freshman Max Golembo led off with a single, and three straight doubles by Billig, Lowery and sophomore Zack Kessinger handed the Bears a 2-0 lead.

 That was all sophomore starting pitcher Dom Quaranta needed in a masterful performance. Against a vaunted Chicago lineup that averaged 9.7 runs per game entering the weekend and led Division III in batting average and slugging percentage, the sophomore tossed a two-hit shutout.

 Quaranta has settled in nicely after a shaky start to his collegiate career. He posted a 13.50 ERA in three appearances last season and was roughed up for four runs in only one-third of an inning against Rhodes College Feb. 22. But in 44 innings since, Quaranta has a sparkling 1.84 ERA, and he is currently working on a scoreless innings streak of 14. 

Quaranta’s “performance was very impressive, especially against a team like Chicago,” Billig said. “That was amazing how they were able to shut him down for an entire game.”

On Sunday, the Bears again split two seven-inning games against Chicago, with a 10-5 win followed up by a 2-1 loss. The Bears again got two respectable pitching performances and again were able to get the bats working in one of the two games.

Wash. U. struck right away with a pair of runs in the first inning of the first game, courtesy of a two-run double from Kessinger. They followed that up with four runs in the top of the third inning as the first four Bears all reached base—and eventually scored—before chasing Chicago starter Alex Terry out of the game.

Senior Matt Tracy pitched a complete game, letting in five runs and striking out three.

The final matchup of the weekend was a pitcher’s duel taken by the Maroons. Senior Taylor Berman pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) while not walking or striking out a single batter. But after the Bears evened the game at 1-1 in the top of the sixth inning, Chicago’s J.R. Lopez made his way around the bases on the strength of a throwing error, a sacrifice bunt and two wild pitches.

“I definitely think we were hitting the ball well all weekend,” Billig said. “Like in the last game, we were hitting the ball hard; it was just going right to people. I guess also the pitching, in the first and the last game, were a little better than in the other two games. I still think we did pretty well offensively.”

Regardless, the Bears made it through the weekend allowing only 11 runs in four games—an impressive result against an offense as productive as Chicago’s.

“Chicago wasn’t able to do what they normally do, which is put a bunch of runs up on the board. I’d say we did a solid job of shutting them down offensively,” Billig said.

Wash. U. will know its updated place in the regional rankings later on in the week. In the meantime, the team has four games left in the 2013 season and will face off with Benedictine University on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m.

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