UIC’s offense explodes at Youngstown State

David Cronin

David Cronin bunts the ball. The Flames scored a road win Saturday, beating Youngstown State, 15-1. The team heads to Northern Kentucky this week. — Photo: Steve Woltmann

UIC’s offense showed up in a powerful way Saturday as the Flames crossed the dish 15 times on 22 hits to topple the Youngstown State Penguins, 15-1, at Eastwood Field to even the series at a game each. Sunday’s match was canceled because of weather.

Six players drove in at least one run for the visiting Flames. Ricardo Ramirez, Conor Philbin and Wyatt Mascarella each drove in three runs for UIC. Philbin had the game’s only home run, a solo shot to right field with one away in the top of the fourth.

After being limited to only one run in the first game of the series, the Flames matched that total in the top of the first inning. UIC went station-to-station with three consecutive singles to load the bases before Brandon Gibis got his team on the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly to center field.

The Flames began a string of four consecutive multi-run frames with a pair of tallies in the top of the second inning. David Cronin drove Alex Dee home from second base, while Cronin later scored on a double down the right-field line off the bat of Ramirez.

UIC doubled its early lead in the top of the third with three more runs. Mascarella brought both Rob Calabrese (bunt single) and Alex Dee (double) home with a sharp single up the middle. Thomas Norton pushed Mascarella up to second base with a sacrifice bunt before Cronin picked up another of his four hits with a single to right field. The Flames second baseman got himself into a rundown, but Mascarella was able to score on the play, making it 6-0 in favor of head coach Mike Dee’s squad.

The six-run cushion was plenty for UIC starting pitcher Jake Dahlberg. The southpaw scattered four hits and surrendered a lone run over six innings on the bump as he posted his second Horizon League victory of the season and third overall. He also fanned seven Penguins in the contest.

Leading 6-1 after three, the Flames added three more runs in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, Philbin homered before Gibis singled and stole both second and third base. The UIC center fielder scored on a wild pitch. Later in the inning, Mascarella plated Calabrese.

The fifth inning featured a two-base hit by Ramirez that scored Cronin and a two-run single from Philbin that brought Derrick Patrick and Ramirez across the dish.

The Flames scored two more runs in the top of the seventh. Patrick and Ramirez walked to open the frame with Patrick scoring on an RBI-single off Gibis’ bat. Ramirez came home later when Calabrese rapped a base hit up the middle. The final run of the game came in the top of the eighth when Cronin scored on a sacrifice fly from Ramirez.

The Flames head to Northern Kentucky for a three-game series Friday through Sunday.

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