Resilient Flames conclude run in NCAA tournament

Players bump helmets in celebration

The baseball team advanced to the NCAA Hattiesburg Regional tournament. (Photo: Joe Harper)

One of the most memorable seasons in the history of the UIC baseball program came to an end June 4 as the Flames lost an NCAA Hattiesburg Regional contest to No. 17 Mississippi State, 5-4.

The team earned a spot in the tournament after being crowned the 2017 Horizon League Tournament champions for the fifth time in program history.

The Flames, who were eliminated by losing for a second time at the Hattiesburg Regional, ended an unforgettable 2017 campaign as one of the most successful squads in program history. UIC became the fastest team in school history to win 30 games and matched the 2002 and 2003 teams with 39 wins on the season.

UIC’s pitching staff posted the best earned-run average in program history, a mark of 2.65. The previous low, held by the 2003 team, was 3.19.

UIC catcher Rob Calabrese earned a spot on the NCAA All-Regional Team.

The Horizon League Player of the Year, Calabrese drove in five runs in two games for the Flames at Pete Taylor Park. In UIC’s first contest against top-seeded and 10th-ranked Southern Miss on June 2, Calabrese had a grand slam, his eighth home run of the season. He added an RBI single that brought the Flames within a run of No. 2 seed Mississippi State in the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday.

Calabrese, a junior from Staten Island, New York, was also named to the Second Team of the Collegiate Baseball NCAA Division I All-America Team.

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