Baseball Wins Horizon League Tournament Over UW-Milwaukee, 9-6
May 29, 2005
Indianapolis, Ind. - The University of Illinois at Chicago baseball squad rallied from a three-run deficit in the sixth inning with six unanswered runs, highlighted by a go-ahead, two-run single from sophomore center fielder Larry Gempp Jr., as the top-seeded Flames earned the 9-6 come-from-behind victory over #3 UW-Milwaukee to claim its second Horizon League Tournament championship in the last three years at Victory Field on Sunday afternoon.
With the victory, UIC improves to 38-19-1 overall and earns the automatic berth in the NCAA Regionals. The Flames' NCAA Regional opponent will be announced at 10:30 a.m. (CST) on ESPN. The Panthers end their season with a record of 26-31.
"From day one of last fall, we've really stressed competing and playing the game one pitch at a time," UIC Head Coach Mike Dee said. "The fact that we stayed in it, and played that way, doesn't surprise me at all.
"I'm really happy for the kids, they've worked extremely hard and I'm happy they've got a chance to experience this."
Gempp Jr. went 3-for-5 with two RBI, a run scored and a stolen base to lead the Flames offensively, while teammates Bart Babineaux (3-for-4, 3 runs) and Bryan Russo (2-for-4, 3 RBI run) each turned in solid efforts at the dish.
UWM took a 6-3 lead over the Flames into the sixth inning, as Babineaux (double) and junior designated hitter Ted Rosinski (hit-by-pitch) both reached base to open the frame. Junior catcher Bryan Nolte reached base on a fielders' choice, moving Babineaux over to third.
Russo plated Babineaux with a RBI single, narrowing the Panthers' lead to 6-4. UWM starting pitcher Rick Cavaiani (2-10) struck out senior second baseman Mike Bruszer and senior shortstop Jeff Gremley for what seemed to be the end of the inning.
UWM catcher Jeremy Wilson, however, was unable to hold on to the strikeout, allowing Gremley to reach base, and put the bags full for senior centerfielder Shane Crowder. Cavaiani issued a free pass to Crowder, allowing Nolte to score, and narrow the Panthers' lead to 6-5.
Gempp Jr. stepped to the plate and roped a two-run single through the right side, putting the Flames ahead for good at 7-6.
UIC reliever Zach Peterson (10-1) picked up his ninth consecutive win of the season, tossing 4.2 innings of scoreless relief while surrendering five hits. Peterson has not lost since March 21st against Ohio State.
UIC sophomore reliever Ryan Zink, the 2005 Horizon League Tournament MVP, held the Panthers to one hit in three innings and struck out three batters to earn his third save of the season.
"I thought Zach and Ryan Zink were truly outstanding," Dee said. "The way they swung the momentum back in our direction, and as that went on, we began to get more confident."
Cavaiani was the tough-luck loser for the Panthers, allowing seven runs (five unearned) and eight hits in 5.2 innings of work.
UWM's Joe Nowicki, Charlie Reschke and Grant Berkovitz each collected two hits apiece on the afternoon.
Following the contest, Babineaux, Nolte, Zink and Peterson were named to the 2005 Horizon League All-Tournament Team.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Ryan Zink, UIC