St. Louis, Mo., March 20, 2015 – The Washington University in St. Louis baseball team scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to rally for a 3-2 victory over Illinois Wesleyan University in the Bears' home opener Friday afternoon at Kelly Field.
WashU improved to 10-3 on the season with the win, the team's eighth victory in a row. Illinois Wesleyan dropped to 5-3 on the season. It was the first of four home games for WashU this weekend. The Bears and Titans square off again at Noon Saturday, before WashU faces Concordia University Chicago at 3 p.m.
After being limited to just five hits through the first seven innings, WashU got its bats going in the bottom of the eighth, beginning with a leadoff double to deep left-center field by sophomore Scott Nelson. Sophomore Austin Darmawan lined a one-out single to left-center and stole second to put two runners in scoring position for the Bears. Sophomore CJ Price then reached on a sharply hit ball to the shortstop. With runners going, there was no play for the Titans as all three baserunners were safe and Nelson scored the Bears' first run of the game. Senior Chris Lowery kept the rally going for WashU by lining a single to left field to tie the game at 2-2. After senior Zack Kessinger was hit by a pitch to load the bases, senior Brian Cizek drove a ball to deep center field, scoring Price from third on the sacrifice fly to give the Bears the 3-2 lead.
After allowing one run on two hits in each of the first two innings, sophomore starter Brad Margolin retired eight straight batters. A two-out single in the top of the fifth by Illinois Wesleyan was erased when junior Kyle Kozak threw the runner out trying to steal second. With Illinois Wesleyan still leading 2-0, Nick Huskisson and Pat Mollo got back-to-back hits on flares to the outfield to put runners on the corners for the Titans. Jarrod Juskiewicz then tapped the ball just fair down the first-base line in front of the plate, but Margolin got off the mound quickly to field the ball and tag Juskiewicz. He then flipped the ball to Kozak, who tagged out Huskisson at the plate to complete the inning-ending double play.
Margolin continued to find his rhythm in the seventh and eighth, retiring six of the next seven batters to keep the score at 2-0. After WashU took the 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth, Margolin came back out to try to finish the game, but had his day ended by Mollo's leadoff double down the left-field line. Sophomore Matt Clohisy replaced Margolin with the tying run at second. He battled through a seven-pitch at-bat by Juskiewicz before getting him to chase a ball high for a strikeout. Clohisy then got a groundout to third, before IWU designated hitter Adam Glogovsky popped a ball up into foul territory where Kessinger made the catch to seal the Bears' come-from-behind win.
After the leadoff batter reached on a single to second base, Illinois Wesleyan used a two-out double to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. The Titans added another two-out run in the top of the second to extend the lead to 2-0, but Lowery threw out Josh Kuntz at third on the play to end the inning. Offensively, WashU was limited to just three hits through the first four innings as Illinois Wesleyan maintained the 2-0 lead.
Both teams finished with nine hits in the game. Nelson led WashU offensively, finishing 3-for-3 with two doubles and a run scored. Price was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run, while Lowery and Cizek accounted for the other two RBIs for the Bears. Margolin (2-0) earned the win for the Bears, allowing two earned runs on nine hits, while recording three strikeouts in eight innings of work. Clohisy picked up his third save of the season with his scoreless ninth inning.
Bear Notebook: WashU improved to 4-2 this season when its opponent scored first … It marked the second time this season the Bears' have taken the lead in the bottom of the eighth before finishing with a win … WashU is 3-2 in home openers under head coach Steve Duncan … Clohisy has yet to allow a run in nine career pitching appearances (12.2 innings) … Lowery's single in the eighth extended his hitting streak to 10 games … Kessinger and Lowery have both reached base safely in all 13 of the Bears' games this season … It was Nelson's first three-hit game of his career.