Flames fight No. 2 team to extra innings

Joey Begel winds up against Vanderbilt Saturday. “Our pitching was outstanding; we did a great job at the plate,” says head coach Mike Dee. Photo: Steve Woltmann

The baseball team (3-6) forced No. 2 Vanderbilt (12-1) into extra innings, but the Commodores scored a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th to cement a 3-1 series finale loss for the Flames.

Senior Joey Begel had an impressive outing, holding Vanderbilt to three hits and one run over 7.1 innings. Begel struck out a career-high six batters and gave up just one walk.

The Flames kept Vanderbilt off balance, limiting the Commodores to just five hits and three runs, both season lows.

“We did everything we were supposed to do but win,” head coach Mike Dee said.

“Our pitching was outstanding; we did a great job at the plate and our defense continues to play really well. There are certainly a lot more positives than negatives coming out of the weekend.”

The Flames equaled Vanderbilt’s six runs over the last 18 innings of the series and held the Commodores scoreless in 17 frames over the weekend.

UIC restricted Vanderbilt to a batting average of .241 and didn’t allow any stolen bases.

UIC has played six nationally ranked opponents in its first nine games of the season.

The Flames tallied the first run in the eighth inning, as Alex Grunenwald smacked a single to left field. He advanced to second off a sac bunt by Alex Jurich and made his way to third off a wild pitch. The next batter, Joe Betcher, reached on a throwing error by the Vanderbilt shortstop and Grunenwald crossed home plate.

The Commodores answered with a lone run in the bottom of the eighth. Neither team scored in the ninth, which sent the contest into extra innings.

In the 10th, Grunenwald reached third base off two hit batsmen and a fly out to right field by Harry Kammholz. But Vanderbilt’s Brian Miller came up big with a strikeout against Betcher to retire the Flames.

Vanderbilt’s Rhett Wiseman scored a home run in the bottom of the 10th for the win.

UIC will begin its home games next week, hosting reigning Big Ten champ Purdue in a three-game series starting on Friday.

“We’re excited about starting up home play and I think March could be a big month for us,” Dee said.

 

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