Late Rally Seals Win for North Central in CCIW Tournament Opener

More news about: North Central (Ill.)

May 9, 2019 – Putting up a pair of five-run innings, the North Central College baseball team rolled to a 14-6 win over Illinois Wesleyan University on Thursday in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) opener at Zimmerman Stadium.

Following a 1-2-3 top of the first, the Cardinal offense came out of the gates with a vengeance, as Matt Sutherland and Jeremy Quade each walked to start the rally.  Rob Marinec followed with a RBI-single to score Sutherland, while John Carmody drove both Quade and Marinec home with a base-hit to right center after the pair moved up a base on a wild pitch.

With one out and Carmody standing on second, Joe Rizzo lined a single up the middle and plate Carmody, forcing a Titan pitching change.  After the new Titan hurler issued back-to-back walks to load the bases, Michael Stoltz increased the lead 5-0 with a RBI-fielder's choice.

That lead did not last long however, as Illinois Wesleyan responded with three unearned runs in the top of the second as a Cardinal error extended the inning and allowed all three runs to score.

North Central gained two of those runs right back in the bottom half of the second on a two-RBI double off the bat of Rizzo to extend the lead to four, but once again the Titans responded right back with three more runs in the top of the third to trim the lead 7-6. The first three innings featured 10 total runs, 10 hits, eight walks and accounted for almost half of the total game time.

Following four-straight innings without either team scoring, the Cardinals broke the contest open in the bottom of the seventh.  Marinec led off with a double down the left field line and was driven in by Colin Weilbacher two batters later with a single to right.  Rizzo then doubled for the second time, sending Weilbacher to third before a wild pitch allowed Weilbacher to score easily from third.

With Rizzo on third and just one away in the inning, Ryan Scott rocketed a double off the left center field fence before Jared Wojcikreached on a throwing error by the Titan shortstop, allowing Scott to score from second.  Wojcik proceeded to steal second and advance to second on a throwing error by the catcher, while scoring on yet another Illinois Wesleyan wild pitch to give North Central a 12-6 lead.

Weilbacher padded the lead with a two-RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to cap the scoring, leading the offense with a 3-for-4 showing from the plate with a walk, two runs scored and three driven in.  Rizzo finished 3-for-5 with three RBI and a pair of runs scored, while Quade drew four walks in his five plate appearances, scoring on three occasion.  Marinec also scored three times while Carmody drove in a pair and scored once.

Patrick Schaefer was magnificent for the Cardinals in relief of starter Austin Polezoes, tossing six scoreless innings to earn his first win of the season while lowering his season earned run average to 1.47.

Jacob Houghton received the loss for Illinois Wesleyan (22-18), allowing five runs, all earned over his 1/3 of an inning, walking two while giving up three hits.

Nick Figus led the Titan offense with a 3-for-5 performance from the plate, driving in three of the six runs.  John Bosco was 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, while Stephen Billington drove in a pair.

North Central (29-11) advances in the winner's bracket of the tournament and will square off with Millikin University on Friday, May 10 at 1 p.m. at Zimmerman Stadium.