BELOIT—In describing his baseball team’s performance in the Midwest Conference Tournament on Saturday, Beloit College’s Dave DeGeorge borrowed a quote from Mike Tyson.
“Tyson said, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,’ only we never punched them in the mouth,” the head coach said. “We never put any pressure on them. It was by far the worst offensive day we’ve had all season.”
The record-setting offense that had delivered knockouts all spring could only manage a couple of soft punches while South Division champion Illinois College swung and landed haymakers. The Blueboys swept the best two-of-three series, 6-3 and 8-1, at The Ballpark at Strong Stadium.
“I’m surprised and obviously disappointed,” DeGeorge said. “I give tremendous credit to Illinois College. I thought they played great. Their pitchers threw a lot of strikes and changed speeds very effectively. They really competed. We just couldn’t get a key hit. We never got on track. “They beat us in every phase of the game. They pitched better than we did. They hit better than we did and their coach made a great decision. He played his outfielders about 10 steps from the fence and they took away a lot of deep flies that if they had been playing normal depth would have been real tough catches.”
While IC (21-7) moves on to the NCAA Division III Tournament, North Division champion Beloit closes the books on a 24-6 season.
“Our team did an amazing job on so many weekends,” DeGeorge said. “It was phenomenal how they rose up and played great. Saturday we just didn’t do a good job. After we beat the University of Chicago, we didn’t get re-energized to be in a battle and have the right mind-set. We just weren’t right. We didn’t look like ourselves.
“Sports is about getting the job done when the opportunity is upon you. That’s what makes it great, but that’s what makes it heartbreaking.”
The Bucs met a team with similar offensive prowess on Saturday and watched IC build a 3-0 lead in the first game as Bailey Reed hit two solo homers and James Marcinkowski one.
Beloit battled back as James Wicker was hit by a pitch in the sixth, took third on a fielding error and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brett Kiger. In the seventh, Matt Crandall singled, stole second and scored on a base hit by Nick Schmidt. Wicker then delivered a double to send him to third and Garrison Ferone scored him with a flyout to left to tie the game at 3-3.
“I thought when we tied it up we were going to wake up and be fine,” DeGeorge said. “But we went right out and messed it up on defense, which is uncharacteristic of us. We just didn’t play well enough.”
IC answered with three runs on two hits and two Beloit errors in the eighth for the 6-3 final. Kaiya Nishino took the loss for the Bucs, allowing four earned runs in 7 1-3 innings of work while striking out five.
Beloit left nine runners on base in the contest while IC stranded just two. Wicker and Crandall each had two hits and scored a run.
Hoping for a bounce back in game two, the Bucs fell behind 1-0 when the Blueboys scored a run in the first. The Bucs tied it in the third inning when Schmidt’s double to center scored Crandall.
That was all the Beloit offense could muster.
The Blueboys got to Beloit starter Tommy Murray in the fourth inning when Cade Henneman hit a two-run home run. Tyler Blum added a solo homer in the fifth. IC tacked on two more runs in the sixth and a single run in the seventh.
Schmidt, playing in his final game as a Buc, registered three of Beloit’s four hits.
Murray took the loss, allowing three runs on three hits in four innings. He struck out five.
Beloit’s season ends with a number of team hitting records, despite playing approximately 10 fewer games than a typical season due to COVID. The Bucs’ season records included runs (324), doubles (88), triples (20), home runs (32) and RBI (291). Adding the final eight wins from 2020, to the nine they started with this season, Beloit had a record 17-game winning streak.
Individual season marks included Bronson Balholm’s six triples, Matt O’Leary and Kiger both smashing eight home runs, O’Leary driving in 49 runs and Wicker being hit by 15 pitches.
The good news is that the majority of the Bucs will return next spring. A few seniors, in fact, have indicated they use the NCAA’s bonus season due to COVID. DeGeorge said Drew Freitag and Wicker have indicated they will return and others are considering the offer.
“We’ll have a strong nucleus back and the pitching in our recruiting class for next season is like nothing we have ever seen before,” DeGeorge said. “We are extremely excited. We feel we have some guys who are D-II-caliber pitchers.”
• NOTES: The MWC reversed course late and did allow two fans per player for the event.
IC…....100 101 030—6-8-1
Beloit..000 001 200—3-7-2
IC (ab-r-h-rbi)—Phillis, cf, 3-0-0-1; Blum, 2b, 4-1-1-0; Reed, 1b, 3-2-2-2; Marcinkowski, rf, 4-1-1-2; Uselton, 3b, 4-0-0-0; King, ss, 4-0-0-0; McBride, dh-p, 4-0-2-0; Hennemann, c, 4-1-2-0; Blum, lf, 2-1-0-0. Totals: 32-6-8-5.
BELOIT (ab-r-h-rbi)—Schmidt, lf, 4-1-1-1; Balholm, c, 5-0-0-0; Wicker, 3b, 3-1-2-0; Ferone, ss, 3-0-0-1; O’Leary, 2b, 3-0-1-0; Kiger, dh-1b, 3-0-0-1; Irwin, rf, 3-0-0-0; Freitag, 1b-p, 4-0-1-0; Crandall, cf, 4-1-2-0. Totals: 32-3-7-3.
2B: Blum, Hennemann, Wicker. HR: Reed 2, Marcinkowski. SB: Marcinkowski, Ferone, Crandall. SF: Ferone, Kiger.
Pitching: IC, Stawar (6 inn., 6 hits, 3 runs, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO), Matheny (1.0, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 BB, 1 SO), McBride (2.0, 0 hits, 0 runs, 1 BB, 2 SO). BC, Nishino (7 1-3, 7 hits, 6 runs, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO); Freitag (1.2, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 BB, 1 SO). W: Matheny (2-1). L: Nishino (L, 4-2).
Beloit..001 000 000—1-5-0
IC…....100 213 10x—8-10-1
BELOIT (ab-r-h-rbi)—Schmidt, lf, 4-0-3-1; Balholm, c, 5-0-0-0; Wicker, 3b, 3-0-0-0; Ferone, ss, 3-0-0-0; O’Leary, 2b, 3-0-1-0; Kiger, dh, 4-0-0-0; Irwin, rf, 3-0-1-0; Zenger, ph, 1-0-0-0; Freitag, 1b, 3-0-0-0; Jensen, ph, 1-0-0-0; Crandall, cf, 2-1-0-0. Totals: 32-1-5-1.
IC (ab-r-h-rbi)—Phillis, 4-1-1-0; Blum, 2b, 3-3-2-1; Reed, 1b, 2-0-1-1; Marcinkowski, rf, 4-0-1-2; McBride, lf, 4-0-0-1; Uselton, 3b, 3-1-0-0; King, p-dh, 4-1-1-0; Hennemann, c, 4-1-2-2; Blum, ss, 3-1-2-1. Totals: 31-8-10-8.
2B: Schmidt, Marcinkowski, King. HR: Blum, Hennemann. SB: Schmidt.
Pitching: BC, Murray (4.0 inn., 3 hits, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO), Starr (3.0, 6 hits, 5 runs, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO); Miller (1.0, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 BB, 0 SO). IC, King (6.1 inn, 3 hits, 1 runs, 1 ER, 5 BB, 8 SO); Lowry (1.2, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 BB, 0 SO); Parkevich (1.0 inn., 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 BB, 2 SO). W: King (6-4). L—Murray (2-1).