April 26 2018
The Wheaton Thunder Baseball team had another rough stretch this week, despite the spring weather warm-up. Coming off of a four-game losing streak, the Thunder looked to bounce back against North Central College and North Park University, but instead they dropped all four of their games to increase their winless streak to eight. The Thunder lost their single game against North Central, and then were swept in their series against North Park, leaving their record to now stand at 13-17 overall and 4-11 in the CCIW.
The Thunder faced off against North Central College in a single game on Friday, April 19 in Carol Stream, and were soundly defeated by a score of 14-2.
The North Central Cardinals posted 14 runs on 16 hits, compared to Wheaton’s two runs on four hits. Junior Caleb Selk started the game on the mound for the Thunder, but was chased after just two innings when North Central opened the game with three runs in the top of the second inning.
The Thunder did respond with one run in the bottom half of the second, as senior Seth Meyer scored on a double to right field by freshman Jacob Garrity, but it would be Wheaton’s lone run of the game until they were able to add one more in the sixth.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals scored six, four and one runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings, respectively, to bring the score to 14-1. The Thunder’s last run of the game came in the bottom of the sixth, when junior Nick Mailman scored on a single by senior Johnny Peltz.
Selk took the loss for the Thunder, while seven other pitchers were also called on to finish the seven-inning game that was shortened by the mercy rule.
With the North Central game behind them, the Thunder looked once again to snap their skid, this time in a three-game conference series against North Park University.
Game one of the series was played in Chicago, and saw North Park take the narrow victory, 4-3.
The Vikings earned their first run off of the Thunder starter pitcher, junior Michael McCraith, in the bottom of the third, but Wheaton quickly brought the game back to even in the fourth when Mailman scored on a single by junior Ben Brittain.
The bottom of the fifth inning saw the Vikings take a 3-1 lead, as a costly Wheaton error afforded North Park two runs, but Peltz’ solo homer down the left field line brought the score to a manageable 3-2 in the top of the seventh.
North Park scored their final run of the game on a fielder’s choice double-play in the bottom of the seventh, where Wheaton decided to trade outs for runs in hopes they would be able to overcome the Vikings’ 4-2 lead.
While they were able to earn one run back when freshman Graham Core scored on a wild pitch in the eighth, Wheaton couldn’t bring the tying run to the plate in the final two innings, resulting in a hard-fought loss of 4-3.
Game two of the series was just as close, with Wheaton falling 3-2 when the teams returned to Carol Stream on Saturday.
North Park scored all of their runs in the second inning, on four hits and a fielding error, and they held their 3-0 lead for most of the game. Despite having baserunners, Wheaton couldn’t seem to get on the board, until they finally broke their scoreless streak in the sixth inning with one run by freshman Joel Pierce on a single by Peltz.
Things did begin to look hopeful as the Thunder scored another run in the bottom of the seventh, when Core once again scored on a wild pitch, to bring the score within one. However, despite opportunities to score, Wheaton struggled once more to bring the tying run to the plate in the final two innings of the game. They had men on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the ninth, but were not able to push either runner across, and the game finished 3-2.
The final game of the series against North Park was not close like the first two, as Wheaton was blown out in an 11-1 game that was also shortened to seven innings.
Once again North Park got on the board early, as Wheaton struggled to create runs. North Park led off with four runs in the first inning, but no scoring followed until the fifth, when each team managed a single run in their half of the frame. Wheaton’s run came on an RBI single by Pierce that scored sophomore Connor Hartman.
After that, two back-to-back three-run innings in the sixth and seventh were enough to give North Park the 10-run lead, resulting in the game ending in the seventh with a score of 11-1.
Wheaton currently sits at the bottom of the CCIW with their 4-11 conference record, but they do have a chance to redeem themselves, as their final nine games of the season are all conference matchups. They will play a doubleheader on April 25 against Millikin University. After that, Wheaton will begin a series against Carroll University this weekend, with game one being played in Carol Stream at 6 p.m. on Friday, and games two and three in Waukesha, Wis. on Saturday.