Baseball Begins Horizon League Play at Wright State on Friday
March 13, 2014
CHICAGO - The UIC baseball team (4-6) will open Horizon League play at Wright State (6-9) on Friday afternoon, kicking off a three-game series that includes a doubleheader on Saturday. Friday's first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT with Saturday action starting at 11 a.m.
In their last meeting, the Raiders ousted UIC from 2013 Horizon League Tournament with a 5-4 win, giving the Flames its second loss in the double-elimination tourney and concluding their season. The Flames took two-of-three from WSU last year in Dayton, Ohio, but the Raiders claimed two wins at UIC earlier in the season. The back-and-forth series yields a slight 11-9 advantage toward Wright State over the last 20 games.
"Wright State is a program that has been very successful," said UIC Head Coach Mike Dee. "I am very pleased with where our club is at right now, especially on defense. With the addition of Oakland, I expect this to be one of the most competitive Horizon League seasons in quite some time. I can easily see the champion being crowned on the final weekend of play."
Extreme winter weather has proved difficult for UIC to play games during the early portion of the 2014 season as the Flames haven't competed since March 1. In their last weekend of action, UIC posted a 1-2 record in Little Rock, Ark., in a round-robin tournament against IPFW, UALR and Missouri. The Flames downed IPFW in the opening contest by a final of 14-6, but dropped their final two outings versus UALR and Mizzou, 9-5 and 4-0, respectively.
Senior Alex Jurich was a bright spot for UIC during the trio of games as he was later named the Horizon League's Batter of the Week. Jurich batted .417 and recorded eight RBI over the weekend. The Minnesota native also belted his first career grand slam against IPFW, giving UIC the go-ahead lead.
Wright State enters the three-game stint with an overall record of 6-9, including a 3-1 mark at home. The Raiders have been playing well as of late, winning their last three outings by a combined run-margin of 30-11. WSU touts two signature wins during the non-conference season against then-No. 4 Oregon State and Michigan State. Wright State was picked third in the league's preseason coaches' poll, one point behind UIC who was tabbed second.
WSU's Travis Hissong was slated as the preseason Pitcher of the Year in the Horizon League. The Major League prospect has totaled 21 strikeouts in 24.1 innings so far this season. Redshirt freshman Brad Macciocchi paces WSU at the plate as the lone batter to hit above .300 with an average of .310. Freshman catcher Sean Murphy picked up the latest HL Batter of the Week accolades as he hit .583 last week and ranks first on the team in RBI and runs.