Cardinals Close Regular Season, Win Seventh CCIW Series

More news about: North Central (Ill.)

May 5, 2019 – Finishing the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) season winning their last seven series, the North Central College baseball team finished the regular season with a doubleheader split with Millikin University, walking off in the opener on a steal of home while dropping the finale 10-8.

North Central (28-11, 18-6 CCIW) took the opener in dramatic fashion as the two teams took a 3-3 tie into extra innings.  With the bases full of Cardinals in the bottom of the 11th and two outs, Rob Marinec pulled off a gutsy move in stealing home as the catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher after the second pitch to Jared Wojcik.  The subsequent toss back to the catcher beat Marinec to the plate but was jarred loose in Marinec's slide home, sending the Cardinals home walkoff winners.

Trailing 3-0 heading to the bottom of the fifth in the opener, Joe Rizzo lined a leadoff double down the left field line, advance to second on a flyout and scored on a wild pitch to trim the put the Cardinals on the board.

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth and Matt Sutherland at first base, Marinec launched his CCIW-leading ninth homerun of the season over the 370 sign in left center, squaring the game at three runs apiece.

Tyler Jones earned the victory in relief, entering the game with runners on first and second and nobody out in the top of the ninth.  Following a sacrifice bunt, the Big Blue ran themselves out of the inning as a suicide bunt attempt went awry leading to an easy out at home, while Jones induced a groundout the following batter to escape danger.  Jones tossed the final three innings, allowing just a pair of hits while striking out two.

Marinec finished the opener 2-for-5 with a homerun, two runs scored and two RBI, while Sutherland and Rizzo each scored once.

In game two, the Millikin offense exploded for 21 hits over the nine innings, including seven in the top of the first inning to take an early 6-0 advantage and held the lead the remainder of the contest.

North Central had multiple chances to overtake the lead, cutting the lead in half right away with three runs of their own in the bottom of the first, as Marinec doubled home a pair and John Carmody singled home another.

After Millikin (21-18, 14-10 CCIW) added a run in the top of the fourth, the Cardinals responded with three more runs on RBI-doubles from Quade and Marinec, while Michael Stoltz drove home Marinec with an infield single to shortstop later in the frame to trim the Big Blue lead 7-6.

Another Big Blue run in the top of the seventh padded the lead 8-6, before John Petty pulled the Cardinals to within one yet again with a RBI-single to left field.

A run in each of the eighth and ninth for Millikin gave North Central a three-run deficit heading to the bottom of the ninth, where Tyler Cristofaro doubled home Wojcik who walked with one out in the inning, trimming the lead to two.  With the tying run at the plate and just one away, Petty lined a rocket to the shortstop who snagged the ball and proceeded to beat Cristofaro back to second, ending the game with a double play.

Nine of Millikin's 21 hits came from Mason Bruce and Jon Walters, as Bruce finished a perfect 5-for-5 from the plate with three runs scored and one driven in, while Walters finished a triple short of the cycle, going 4-for-5 with four RBI and a run scored.  Daniel Mendoza and Gabe Soria also added three hits apiece.

Quade finished 4-for-5 with a pair of runs scored and a RBI in the nightcap to pace the Cardinal offense, while Marinec added a 3-for-5 showing with three RBI and two runs scored.  Wojcik reached base if four of his five plate appearances, going 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored.  Quade's five total hits on the day move him closer to Ken Ritter's '88 school record for career hits, as Quade's 239 are just six shy of tying the record.

Blake Kons received the loss on the mound as he failed to get out of the first inning, allowing six runs, three earned, on six hits.

With the newly expanded six-team CCIW Tournament, North Central will host at Zimmerman Stadium and Wheaton College's Lee Pfund Stadium in Carol Stream, Illinois.  The Cardinals will open tournament play as the No. 1 seed and take on the winner of fourth-seeded Illinois Wesleyan University and fifth-seeded Wheaton College on Thursday, May 9 at 3 p.m. at Zimmerman Stadium.