Cougars Close in on Title with Sweep of Spartans

More news about: Concordia-Chicago

April 28, 2018 - Playing as a true road team has been somewhat of a rare occurrence this month, with some of their scheduled away games transformed into pseudo-home games at Cougar Field. Today was one of those exceptions as the Concordia-Chicago baseball team traveled to the Stuart Sports Complex in west-suburban Montgomery to take on conference rival Aurora University. One thing that remained the same was the solid pitching, both starting and relieving, as the Cougars improved their winning streak to six with 9-2 and 6-4 wins over the Spartans.

Concordia-Chicago jumped on Aurora in the early innings of game one, helped by numerous Spartans' fielding errors  The Cougars put up a three-spot in the second after the first two men were out. Keegan Tyrell reached on an error and moved up when Connor Brandon was hit by a pitch. Kevin Garcia then lined a double to the right field corner for two runs, and Garcia scored later in the inning when Aurora misplayed two more balls.

The Cougars added a single run in the third on singles by Brady Roberts, Kevin Coppin and Brandon, and then piled on with three more in the fourth. Coppin drove in a run on a grounder to second base, and Tyrell added a two-run single to make it a 7-0 lead for CUC.

Aurora came back with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, one of them unearned, but that was all that the Cougars' pitching staff would allow in game one. Keaton Conner, Alex Meyers and Sal Biondo combined to shut down the home team over the final five innings. meanwhile, the Cougars capped the game with single runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Jose Mercado accounted for the run in the eighth as he singled, stole second and scored on Bryan VanDuser's single, while the last two of Aurora's first-game errors allowed the final run to score.

Conner was strong in recording his third win of the season. The senior pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing just the two runs (one earned) on five hits while fanning seven and walking three.

The Cougars struck again early in the nightcap, putting four on the board in the third. With runners on the corners, a pickoff throw to first was off target, and Tyrell came in from third for the first run of the game. Mercado then singled, putting two runners on base for VanDuser, who tripled to left field to score the pair. Joe Silva followed with another extra-base knock, this one a double, and CUC had the early jump once again. 

Concordia-Chicago starter Brian Musielak cruised through the first four inning, but Aurora touched him for a pair of unearned runs to cut the lead in half. However, CUC got one back in the seventh on Mercado's sacrifice fly.

Aurora looked to rally in the bottom of the seventh as three walks and a single led to one run scoring and the bases being loaded. Mike Formella relieved Alex Meyers, and he worked out of trouble. The first batter he faced hit a fly ball which scored the runner from third, but Formella reared back and struck out the next batter to leave two men on and keep the score at 5-4. The Cougars then got one of those runs back in the eighth when Silva was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a single by Justin Rodriguez.

Musielak pitched six solid innings to improve to 4-1 on the year. He allowed two unearned runs on eight hits, striking out four and walking just one. Formella earned his 11th save, leaving him just two shy of tying the single-season record.

The Cougars (26-8, 13-3 NACC) will return home to host Rockford University on Sunday at noon. The team will recognize its senior players following game two.