Cardinals Fall Just Short to Top-Ranked Cougars

More news about: North Central (Ill.)

Apr. 24, 2019 – Making a late comeback attempt, the North Central College baseball team fell just shy in its attempt at knocking off the No. 1 team in the nation on Wednesday, suffering a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Concordia University Chicago at Zimmerman Stadium.

Held to just one hit prior to the seventh inning, the North Central defense kept the Cardinals in the game, turning four double plays through the first seven innings, including an improbable three by right fielder Colin Weilbacher

Weilbacher nabbed a Cougar baserunner in the top of the fourth, as a hit-and-run gone bad turned into the first Cardinal double play on a 9-2 putout.  In the top of the fifth, Weilbacher gunned down Matt Fauth at the plate in an attempt to score on a flyout, while the Cougars tested Weilbacher again in the top of the seventh in the same situation as the fifth, again to no avail as Weilbacher nailed Abelardo Paz Agudelo at the plate to end the fourth-straight inning with a double play.

The Cardinal offense finally got to Cougar starter Noah Dressler in the bottom of the seventh, generating a bit of two-out magic.  After Weilbacher singled to lead off the frame, consecutive foul outs seemed to doom the Cardinals but Jared Wojcik kept the inning alive shooting a 1-2 pitch to right field.

Following a fantastic bunt single from Michael Stoltz that caught everyone by surprise, Matt Sutherland came through in the clutch with a two-out, two-RBI single to center, scoring Weilbacher and Wojcik to knot the score 2-2.

The magic ended there however for North Central, as back-to-back singles put runners on first and second with one away in the top of the eighth.  After a fielder's choice advanced a runner to third, Connor Brandon capped off his 4-for-4 day with his biggest hit of the afternoon, lining a RBI-single to left, scoring Brayden Benavides in what proved to be the game-winning run.

North Central had a chance to tie the ballgame in the bottom of the ninth as the tying run was on second with just one out, but Cougar closer Mike Tobin induced a strikeout and foul out ended the comeback attempt for his fifth save of the season.

The Cardinal defense turned five double plays over the nine innings, two shy of the NCAA Division III record set over a 10-inning contest.

Sutherland finished 1-for-5 with the only two RBI on the afternoon, while Weilbacher finished 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored.

Starter Luke Lamm received a no-decision, working around seven hits to allow two runs over his 6 1/3 innings, while Dressler was the winning pitcher for Concordia-Chicago (29-3), allowing two runs on five hits over seven innings of work.

North Central (23-8) returns to College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) play on Saturday, Apr. 27, beginning an important three-game series with Augustana College as the Cardinals currently hold a two-game lead over the Vikings in the top of the standings.