Baseball Claims Share Of 10th Regular Season Crown Under Mike Dee|
May 20, 2011
CHICAGO - For the 10th time in the past 11 seasons and the ninth time in the Horizon League under head coach Mike Dee, the UIC baseball team has claimed at least a share of the regular season championship.
The Flames (27-24, 16-7 Horizon League) entered play Friday trailing the Wright State Raiders (33-17, 16-7 Horizon League) in the standings by one game. Both teams took care of business in their doubleheader openers with UIC winning 2-0 against Youngstown State and the Raiders knocking off Butler at home, 17-5. Dee's squad kept pace by knocking off Penguins in game two, 13-8, while Wright State faltered against the Bulldogs in their nightcap, 15-4, paving the way for the teams to share the 2011 Horizon League regular season championship.
UIC won in two different fashions on Friday as it swept a Senior Day doubleheader against the Youngstown State Penguins at Les Miller Field, 2-0 and 13-8.
In the opener, UIC (27-24, 16-7 Horizon League) starting pitcher Joey Begel (4-3) turned in an outstanding performance as he held the Penguins (12-39, 7-16 Horizon League) scoreless through eight innings while scattering five hits and striking out two. The sophomore did not walk a batter on the day and retired the last 10 Youngstown State hitters he faced in order. Senior Eric Wyman tied teammate Jason Ganek with his fourth save of the season in game one by tossing a perfect ninth inning.
Senior Andy Leonard, who was playing at The Mill for the final time Friday, got the offense rolling with a well-struck double with one away in the bottom of the second inning. The two-bagger was the 61st for UIC's all-time leader in that category. The next batter, Joe Betcher, traded places with Leonard with a double of his own to give the Flames a narrow 1-0 lead after two innings of play, however it would prove to be the difference.
UIC would add on with two outs in the third inning. It was two more seniors who would help push across another run. Ganek was hit by a pitch ahead of Matt Serna who drilled a double to right center field, scoring Ganek and extended the lead to 2-0. Robert Switka (2-7) took the loss in game one for the Penguins. The sophomore last 6.2 innings, allowing the two runs on seven hits. He walked one and fanned three.
Serna finished 2-for-4 in game one and added three more hits in game two to extend his streak of reaching base safely to 29 games.
In the nightcap, the Flames offense ignited early, pushing across three first inning tallies against the Penguins Bill Turosky. It was the senior class that once again flexed its muscle for UIC with Ganek, Serna and Leonard all singling in back-to-back-to-back fashion to manufacture the runs. Alex De LaRosa also collected the first of three hits in the game, while Leonard's base hit with the biggest blow, plating both Ganek and Serna.
The Flames led 6-2 heading into the top of the fifth inning when Youngstown State scored three times to cut the deficit to just one. Neil Schroth, Jeremy Banks and Chris Mitko all delivered RBI singles in the inning. The Penguins would add another run in the top of the seventh inning off reliever Jon Ryan (1-0) to knot things at six, but the freshman buckled down and let his offense go to work.
Turosky was lifted in the bottom of the seventh in favor of Jonathan Crist and the UIC hitters welcomed the junior the best way they knew how, by hanging six runs on the reliever. Ganek and Leonard walked sandwiched around another Serna double to load the bases for Betcher, who was hitless in the second game at this point. Betcher got a pitch to drive and he unloaded on the ball parking it deep in the right center field gap for a bases-clearing triple, the first of his career. Nick Addison followed with an RBI double, Jacob McNamara scored on senior Steve McGuiggan's RBI single. Ganek notched an RBI single to right field, scoring McGuiggan and giving the Flames a sizable 13-6 advantage.
McGuiggan's seventh-inning single was his third of the day, but more notably, the 243rd hit of his career, tying him with J.P. Moran for the all-time lead at UIC. The Apple Valley, Minn. native likely would have shattered the record had he not missed more than five weeks earlier this season with an injury.
Ryan tossed 3.2 innings to earn his first collegiate win on the mound. The freshman allowed two runs on three hits while striking out one. Wyman appeared again in the second game Friday, solidifying the final two outs of the game, including a strikeout to end the ballgame.
The Flames will now turn their attention to next week's Horizon League Championship tournament at Wright State. Play gets underway on Wednesday, however, UIC has locked up the number two seed in the double-elimination event and will receive a first-round bye. The first game for the Flames will be Thursday, May 26 at 2:05 p.m. CDT against the highest remaining seed. Be sure to check UICFlames.com for details throughout the week.