The Concordia University Chicago baseball team came into their game against Oswego State looking to keep their season alive in an elimination game.
It would not be an easy task, owing to both the opponent – Oswego State (32-10), the top overall seed in this Division III World Series – and to the fact that CUC would play without All-American shortstop Bryan VanDuser (Plainfield, IL – Plainfield North H.S.).
However, the mental toughness that has characterized the Cougars all season came to the forefront. The Cougars grabbed the lead early and never looked back, defeating the Lakers 9-4 and living to play another day.
CUC head coach Mike Stawski stressed the importance last night of getting an early lead, and the Cougars did just that as Mitch Wilson (Oswego, IL – H.S.) and Justin Rodriguez (Wood Dale, WI – Fenwick H.S.) hit run-scoring singles in the first for a 2-0 lead. Wilson then struck again in the third as his hit scored Joe Silva (Arlington Heights, IL – Hersey H.S.) for a three-run advantage.
Oswego State got on the board in the fourth on an unearned run, but CUC answered with a four-run burst in their half of the inning, highlighted by Brent Spohr’s (Ingleside, IL – Grant Community H.S.) two-run single. Another RBI single by Wilson, his third of the day, gave CUC a 7-1 lead.
The Lakers looked to cut into the lead in the seventh, scoring a run on a wild pitch, but Caballero retired the final two batters of the inning with the bases loaded.
Concordia-Chicago responded again, this time with two runs. Matthews’ single to center and Spohr’s double to the left field corner gave CUC a 9-2 lead. Oswego State scored their final runs in the seventh, but CUC’s Petar Arbov (Elk Grove Village, IL – Elk Grove H.S.) hurled the final two innings to lock this game up for the Cougars, while Oswego State was eliminated.
“This was a huge win, definitely a team win,” said Stawski in the post-game press conference. “We did the things we do well – score lots of runs, especially with two out, pitch well and play good defense.” On the subject of the latter, Stawski cited the play of the freshman Aaron Wicker (Bloomington, IN – H.S.) coming in at shortstop today and having a hand in seven putouts.
The Cougars will play Roanoke (VA) College Sunday at 10 a.m. If CUC wins, they will play Washington and Jefferson College at 4:30 p.m. for a chance to set up a play-in game on Monday.
Press release issued by Concorida University Chicago Athletic Department