Flames clinch No. 1 seed in tournament
With a 9-6 victory against Youngstown State (16-33, 9-21 HL) at home Saturday, the UIC baseball team (28-20-1, 22-8 HL) won the 2015 Horizon League regular season title and clinched the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
The Flames begin tournament action at 11 a.m. Thursday at Oil City Stadium in Whiting, Indiana.
“It’s been an interesting season and I can’t even come up with the words to describe how proud I am of these kids,” head coach Mike Dee said. “I’m proud of the fact that we won six straight to end the season.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge for us next week because everyone starts back to square one.”
The honor is the 11th league crown for Dee and the Flames. UIC tied a program record for most conference wins with 22 after sweeping the Penguins during the final week of the regular season.
The baseball team earned Horizon League Coach, Player and Pitcher of the Year honors, along with nine All-Conference selections. Dee picked up his ninth Coach of the Year award, while Jeff Boehm and Jake Dahlberg took home Player and Pitcher of the Year honors. Boehm is the third UIC Flame to win Horizon League Player of Year honors and Dahlberg is UIC’s fifth all-time conference Pitcher of the Year honoree.
Boehm and Dahlberg are joined on the All-League First-Team by Tyler Detmer and Mickey McDonald. UIC has three players on the second team, including Trevor Lane, Ryan Hinchley and Alex Lee. David Cronin and Rob Calabrese earned recognition with selections to the All-Freshman squad.
UIC closed the season on a seven-game winning streak, including six Horizon League contests. The Flames won nine of 10 conference series this season and recorded three sweeps.
After the game, UIC baseball honored its eight seniors: Boehm, Lee, Detmer, Hinchley, Zenon Kolakowski, Carl Sugihara, , Alex Posey and Brian Evak.
“I think these players, especially the seniors, embody the three principles we talk about all the time and that’s selflessness, relentlessness and excellence,” Dee said.
Boehm scored his 14th home run of the season in the third inning. The three-run blast gave UIC the lead for good. He moves into sole possession of the No. 3 spot on UIC’s single-season home run list.
Boehm increased his league-leading RBI total to 62, which is tied for third on the Flames’ single-season leaderboard and in the Top 10 in the nation. He needs just four more RBI to set the program record.
Boehm wins the Horizon League Triple Crown award after leading the conference in homers (14, t-1), RBI (62) and batting average (.371).
Sophomore McDonald paced UIC at the dish, going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Lee and Boehm tallied two hits each as redshirt junior Conor Philbin connected on his first double of the season.
Junior Ian Lewandowski (5-4) picked up his fifth win of the season as he tossed eight innings, giving up three runs and scattering 10 hits.