Baseball squeezes out a victory against Central Michigan
On a beautiful Chicago evening at Les Miller Field, UIC baseball produced some timely defense, offense, and stellar pitching performances for a 5-3 victory over Central Michigan.
Starter Rafael Garcia had his best outing yet, pitching three innings while allowing two hits and no runs to earn himself a victory. Garcia looked sharp in controlling his pitches and got ahead in the count.
In the bottom of the first, Steve McGuiggan led the inning with a walk and eventually stole second. Jason Ganek also drew a walk, which brought up the Flames number three hitter, Chris Rutta, who singled in a run.
Catcher Nathan Orf laid out a sacrifice bunt, which set up for Matt Serna’s RBI groundout, giving the Flames an early 2-0 lead.
Garcia did get into a bit of trouble in the top of the second. After quickly retiring the first two batters, Garcia loaded the base, providing a potential scoring threat for Central Michigan. However, Garcia was able to induce a groundout, ending the inning with the shutout still in place.
Andy Leonard singled with two out in the bottom of the second to ignite another offensive push. Leonard stole second and McGuiggan hit a triple to score Leonard and extend the lead 3-0. But the Flames continued on as Ganek hit a double to score McGuiggan.
Down by four runs, Central Michigan didn’t quite throw in the towel as they began to crawl back into the game. Joey Begel relieved Garcia and gave up an RBI single to Jordan Dean. Begel loaded the bases in the top of the sixth and gave up a run off of a sacrifice fly to cut the lead down to 4-2.
Eric Wyman came in the top of the seventh and gave up a solo home run to James Teas, who hit it over the left field fence. Wyman escaped the inning without further trouble, but the game suddenly turned into a thriller.
Matt Serna got hit by a pitch in the bottom of the eighth and eventually stole second. This set up Joe Betcher to hit a single up the middle and provided UIC with some room to breathe.
Brad Riegler came in to close out the game in the top of the ninth and ended the game with a double play.
UIC converted four double plays and put on a strong defensive performance.