Flames Edged by No. 1 Valpo in Game 8 of HL Tourney, 4-3

Freshman pitcher Tomas Michelson.
Freshman pitcher Tomas Michelson.

May 25, 2012

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CHICAGO – The UIC baseball team led for seven of the nine innings in Friday night’s Horizon League Tournament contest against No. 1 seed Valparaiso, but the Crusaders scored three runs in the eighth to clip the Flames, 4-3.  Freshman pitcher Tomas Michelson threw 7.1 innings in his second collegiate start and allowed just four runs on six hits with a no-hitter through four frames. 

The Flames will now play No. 6 seed Youngstown State in game nine of the championship on Saturday at 11 a.m. CST.  The winner of that match up will turn around and play Valpo at 3 p.m.

“I like the way we played tonight,” said head coach Mike Dee.  “We looked crisp and I thought we played really well.  We had a freshman on the mound who six weeks ago I thought we were going to redshirt and he pitched with tremendous composure.  We’ll come back tomorrow and try to play with the same competitiveness.”

Valpo senior hurler and Horizon League Pitcher of the Year Kevin Wild was credited with the win as he lasted eight innings and gave up nine hits and three runs.

Guiding UIC at the plate was sophomore Alex Jurich who went 2-for-3 with two RBI and one of the three Flames’ doubles.  Alex De LaRosa also went 2-for-3 with a double, his third two-bagger of the championship.  

The Flames struck first in the top of the fourth inning as Jon Ryan began the frame with a double down the left field line and was advanced to third on a single to left field by Alex Lee.  Ryan and Lee were then sent home off a double to left by Jurich, giving the Flames an early 2-0 edge.

UIC added another score in the top half of the fifth inning as Jacob McNamara kicked things off with walk.  Alex De LaRosa pushed McNamara over second on a sacrifice bunt and then Joe Betcher drove him in with a single to left field.

The Crusaders notched their first run of the evening in the bottom of the fifth frame on a ground-out RBI from Billy Cribbs that plated Elliot Martin, cutting UIC’s lead down to 3-1.

Valpo’s bats came alive in the bottom of eighth inning as they put up three runs to jump ahead of UIC, 4-3.  Tanner Vavra scored off a single from Spencer Mahoney and Mark Johnson plated John Loeffler and Elliot Martin off a single to left center.  Senior closer Chris Hoffman replaced Michelson to record the final two outs of the frame.

The Flames began the bottom of the ninth with a walk from Jurich and Tyler Detmer came in to pinch run.  Detmer was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Addison, but the next two batters lined out and grounded out to close the night.

Saturday’s games will be streamed live in HD on the Horizon League Network with Justin Weiner executing the play-by-play.