Baseball Blanks Wright State, Moves One Win Away From NCAA Regionals

Mike Kool tossed a complete-game shutout against Wright State.
Mike Kool tossed a complete-game shutout against Wright State.

May 23, 2009

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Watch UIC's winner-take-all championship game against Wright State on May 24 at 10 a.m. CT

LORAIN, Ohio- Missing four starters with health issues ranging from the flu to leg injuries, the UIC baseball team needed to keep its cool.

Instead, the Flames gave its Kool to Wright State.

Mike Kool pitched a complete-game shutout, and UIC moved just one win away from its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Regionals after blanking the Raiders, 4-0, in a 2009 Horizon League Baseball Championship final-round game at The Pipe Yard on Saturday afternoon.

Brett Schaefer went 4-for-4 with an RBI for the Flames (29-22), who will meet the Raiders (32-28) this Sunday, May 24 in a winner-take-all league championship game beginning at 10 a.m. Central.

After crushing Milwaukee 18-3 in an elimination game earlier in the day despite missing All-Leaguers Brandon Harwell (flu), Jason Ganek (flu), Nathan Orf (hamstring) and home run leader Chris Rutta (concussion/leg), the depleted Flames played their brand of patient, opportunistic baseball to manufacture runs while exacting a little revenge on the Raiders, who erased UIC's five-run lead the night before in a 7-6 Wright State win.

Kool gave Wright State no chance at a repeat rally and handcuffed the Raiders' explosive offense for all nine innings. The senior right-hander from Davenport, Iowa matched a career-high eight strikeouts while scattering seven hits and preventing the potent Dayton-based batsmen from crossing the plate.

UIC threatened with runners in scoring position during the game's first two innings before finally striking in the third. Jake Carr and Schaefer led off with consecutive singles, and one out later it was John Rosinski, who went 6-for-6 in Saturday's first game, collecting his eighth hit and seventh RBI of the day after dunking a Rylan Ostrosky offering in front of right fielder Kory Twede.

The Flames added to their lead in the fourth when Tony Altavilla began the inning with a single up the middle. After Carr took one to left center to put Altavilla at second, Schaefer singled through the left side of the infield to bring the Flames' second baseman home.

Steve McGuiggan began the sixth by laying down a beautifully-placed bunt down the third base line. Quentin Cate picked the ball up and, despite McGuiggan easily on his way to a single, air-mailed it over a leaping Jeff Mercer at first base for a two-base error. That brought up Altavilla, who sacrificed his at-bat for a run in the form of a deep flyout to center that allowed McGuiggan to tag up and trot home.

Schaefer led off the seventh with a base knock, and after Rafael Garcia's sacrifice bunt and Rosinski's groundout eventually moved Schaefer to third, Steve Humble ripped a hard liner past Cate at third base to drive in UIC's fourth run of the game.

Wright State appeared to have something brewing in the eighth when Casey McGrew roped a double near the right field corner with a man on. But Ty Rubio got the throw to Altavilla, who fired home to Humble and gunned down R.J. Gundolff to keep the Raiders off the scoreboard and end the inning.

Kool retired the side in order in the ninth to officially force Sunday's decisive championship game.

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