Baseball Crushes Cleveland State, 16-6, In Horizon League Championship Opener
May 21, 2009
LORAIN, Ohio- Brett Schaefer blasted a tie-breaking three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, spurring the UIC baseball team to score 13 times in a four-inning span and cruise to a 16-6 victory over host Cleveland State in its opening contest of the 2009 Horizon League Baseball Championship at The Pipe Yard on Thursday night.
The top-seeded Flames (27-21) advance to play third-seeded Wright State this Friday, May 22 at 6 p.m. Central for the right to go to the championship round of the tournament.
Schaefer went 2-for-2 with four RBI and reached base in each of his five plate appearances, while Andy Leonard was 4-for-5 with three RBI.
Starter Chris Kovacevich tossed six solid innings, fanning six and allowing just three earned runs, to get the win.
UIC's offense was potent and patient. The Flames pounded out 16 hits, including nine knocks of the extra-base variety, while also drawing 13 walks.
The Flames batted around in both the fourth and fifth innings, scoring 10 times during those two frames alone, and tacked on a three-spot in the seventh for good measure.
The game was close early on, as UIC nursed a 3-1 lead until the Vikings (21-30) tied it in the top of the fourth on Kyle Shaffer's two-run shot.
Steve McGuiggan led off the bottom of that same inning with a double, and two outs later Jake Carr jogged to first after he was hit in the back by a pitch. That put a pair on for Schaefer, who deposited the second offering he saw from Viking starter Anthony Sambula well past the centerfield fence to break a 3-3 deadlock.
A bases-loaded walk to Tony Altavilla concluded the scoring in the fourth, but the Flames were just getting the rout started.
Back-to-back-to-back fifth-inning hits off the bats of Schaefer, Chris Rutta and Jason Ganek drove in three runs, and later in that frame Leonard legged out a two-run double and subsequently scored on a wild pitch.
Brandon Harwell singled with the bases loaded in the seventh to plate a pair, and Steven Humble's RBI base hit in the Flames' next at-bat concluded the scoring for the two-time defending league tourney champions.
There was an anxious moment in the second when Rutta dove for a foul fly ball and hit a fence head-first, but the rightfielder eventually stood up and played until the game was out of reach.
Flames fans can follow the championship in a variety of ways. Saturday's games and a possible Sunday game will be video streamed on the Horizon League Network (free registration required). Gametracker will be available for every game, and fans can receive in-game tweet updates from The Pipe Yard press box on Twitter from @uicflamesdotcom.
Flames fans can listen to exclusive podcasts, featuring interviews with closer Derrick Miramontes and head coach Mike Dee, by clicking here to download the UIC Athletics Widget. The podcasts are also available on iTunes.