Baseball Clinches Horizon League Regular Season Title With 10-6 Victory Over UW-Milwaukee
May 19, 2002
Milwaukee, Wis. - The University of Illinois at Chicago baseball team captured its first outright Horizon League regular-season championship on Sunday afternoon as the Flames earned the 10-5 victory over UW-Milwaukee at Henry Aaron Field.
With the victory, UIC improves to 36-14 on the season and 14-5 in the Horizon League, while UW-Milwaukee falls to 32-18 overall and 15-8 in league play.
UIC will receive the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Horizon League Championships at Jacobs Field and will square off with the winner of the play-in game between #6 Wright State and #7 Detroit at 10:30 A.M.
"I'm extremely proud of our kids," UIC head coach Mike Dee said. "At one time or another we have had five different position players out with injuries.
"To be where we are right now is a remarkable accomplishment."
Junior Kevin Nelson (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows) and sophomore Mike Hughes (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) each recorded two hits for the Flames, while sophomore Nelson Gord (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove) drove in three runs.
UIC reliever Eric Xidis (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville) picked up the victory for the Flames as he scattered eight hits in 6 2/3 innings of work while striking out five batters to improve his record to 6-4 on the campaign.
UW-Milwaukee starter Rob Erickson (2-2) was unable to record an out and was relieved by Cory Kleeba after hitting Mike Bruszer (Deerfield, Ill./Deerfield) with the first pitch of the game and walking the following three batters on 12 consecutive pitches.
Kleeba was just as wild as Erickson as he surrendered a sacrifice fly by Chuck Peters (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) before hitting both Hughes and Nelson to put the Flames ahead, 3-0.
Gord then capped off the inning with a two-run infield single up the middle to give UIC the 5-0 lead with only recording one hit during the frame.
UW-Milwaukee scored three unanswered runs as catcher John Vandenberg recorded a RBI single in the bottom of the first and right fielder Dave Pudlosky roped a two-run single to left-center in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Kleeba held UIC in check as he only allowed two hits until the eighth inning. The Flames loaded the bases and knocked home three runs on a Gord sacrifice fly and a two-run error by UW-Milwaukee first baseman Shane Davis to extend UIC's lead to 8-3.
The Panthers' answered in the bottom half of the eighth inning with a pair of runs on a fielders choice by third baseman Steve Guden and a single by left fielder David Michna to cut the Flames' lead to 8-5.
UIC, however, put an end to UW-Milwaukee's threat in the top of the ninth inning as junior right fielder Curtis Granderson (Lynwood, Ill./T.F. South) connected for a solo home run to lead off the inning and Nelson drove in J.P. Carey (Flossmoor, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor) with a RBI single.