Urbana University opened up its weekend series against Wheeling Jesuit with a doubleheader split at UU Baseball Field on Friday. The Blue Knights bounced back with a 12-4 victory in the nightcap after dropping a narrow 4-3 decision in the opening contest. The two teams will meet again Saturday with a 9 a.m. start time.
UU improved to 18-24 overall and 12-14 in MEC play, while remaining one game behind Wheeling (14-24, 13-13) in the league standings for third place in the North Division. The top three teams from each division qualify for the conference postseason tournament.
Trailing 4-2 in their final at-bat, the Blue Knights were able to push one run across and put another runner on third with one out but failed to score the tying run.
UU starter Austin Mace overcame three walks and three hit batters by giving up just four hits in his seventh complete game. He’s now tied for third in single-season team history for most complete games.
The Cardinals, however, made one of those hits count with a three-run homer in the fifth after trailing 2-1 to go up 4-2. The home run was a deep liner that caromed off the top of the right field fence.
The Blue Knights outhit the Cardinals 6-4 and left eight runners on base.
Damario Brown and Brent West each knocked in a run in the third to put UU ahead 2-1. Tim Feasel, DJ Collins, Mickey Barea and Bradley Burkholder had the other four UU base knocks.
Mace (6-4) took the loss on the mound and WJU’s Cody Hudson improved to 2-1 while Joe San Felippo earned the save.
The Blue Knights scored five runs in the fifth and four in the sixth to put the game out of reach.
After facing trouble early on with three runs on five hits, UU starter Dalton Greenwalt settled down to cruise to his first career complete game. The junior righty allowed seven hits over the final eight frames and tallied four strikeouts.
Collins led the way with a 3-for-5 effort at the dish with a team-high three RBI. The senior shortstop increased his reached-base streak to 44 games dating back to 2015.
West (2-for-5; 2 RBI) increased his hitting streak to 10 games, while Barea (2-for-4; 2 RBI) also recorded a pair of hits.
UU led 6-4 in the sixth as Burkholder led off the bottom half with a walk. AJ Finlay stepped up to the plate next and launched a mammoth shot far past the center-field fence to make it 8-4. It was the senior’s third home run of the season which is a career high and tied for the team lead.
Designated hitter Enmanuel Lopez tripled in the eighth inning and raised his reached-base streak to 19 games. Feasel has also reached in 19 straight contests and raised his team-leading average to .421 at the plate.
UU scored its first run in the opening frame, and also added one run in the seventh and eighth.