Flames Comeback Falls Short at Northern Illinois, 8-6

March 20, 2012

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DEKALB, Ill - The UIC baseball team forced Northern Illinois into seven scoreless innings, but a six-run allowance in the second frame was the difference maker as the Flames dropped the non-conference affair by a final score of 8-6 on Tuesday afternoon at Ralph McKenzie Field.  With the loss, UIC drops to 5-12 on the season, remaining 1-2 in the Horizon League.

“The game is all about pitching,” said head coach Mike Dee.  “I didn’t think we pitched really well in the beginning and obviously we made two defensive mistakes that we don’t normally make.  The second inning really cost us the game.”

After the second frame, UIC held the Huskies to just two scores for the rest of the contest.  The Flames took one of those runs back in the top of the third as Alex Grunenwald was sent home on an Alex De LaRosa groundout.  Mike Schoolcraft came in for senior starter Matt Salemi in the fourth frame and lasted 4.1 innings, allowing four hits and zero runs.

“We had great pitching the last seven innings,” said Dee.  “I’m really proud of Mike (Schoolcraft) for the way he played.”

The Huskies extended their lead by two runs (8-1) in the bottom of the fourth inning, recording three hits from Jameson Wells, Alex Jones and Alex Klonowski.  The Flames answered with two runs of their own in the next frame as Ryan Boss kicked things off with a single to right field.  Nick Addison would send Boss to second base on a single to right center and both were sent across the plate by a De LaRosa on a poke up the middle.

The Flames picked up two more runs in the top of the sixth inning as Grunenwald began with a double to left field.  Grunenwald advanced to third on a routine groundout and then a single by Ryan Boss drove him home.  Boss would later score on a dropped ball by NIU’s left fielder, cutting the Huskie’s lead down to 8-5.

The seventh and eighth innings came up scoreless for both clubs as the Huskies held a three-run edge heading into the ninth inning.

Jon Ryan reached base on a hit pitch which was followed by a walk from Grunenwald.  Both runners advanced to second and third, respectively, on a passed ball.  Ryan Boss, the following batter, was walked and loaded the bases with just one out.  Speedy freshman Carl Sugihara entered the game at that point to pinch run for Boss.  After a UIC strikeout, Addison pushed Ryan home on yet another walk by the Huskies and brought the score to 8-6.  The game would eventually end on a screamer hit by Ryan Shober directly to the NIU third baseman and with the bases juiced all he had to do was step on the bag.

The Flames load the bus again tomorrow for a 6 p.m. CT non-league tilt at Bradley.