Self-doubt has caused the University of Chicago Maroons baseball team to perform less well than they did a year ago.
The Maroons led the nation in hitting last season but did not execute with the same offensive outburst during this season’s first 16 games. But in the team’s 15-5 victory over the Benedictine University Eagles April 4 at J. Kyle Anderson Field, South Cottage Grove Avenue and East 55th Street, the Maroons showed a glimpse of last season’s team.
“The hitters have been working really hard to get their groove back,” said Assistant Coach Scott Budeselich. “We led the nation in hitting last year, and this year we quite haven’t been there with a lot of guys. I think one or two of us have been carrying the load.”
One Maroon carrying the team offensively is left fielder Jack Cinoman, who was also recently named to D3Baseball.com’s team of the week.
“The award is just an award,” Cinoman said. “I come out here and try and have a successful day every day. I am honored to be given that, but that doesn’t stop me from putting forth my best effort every game and [I] hope to be doing the same thing as the season goes on.”
Through 17 games, Cinoman hit for a .466 average. With his run–scoring triple in the first inning of April 4’s win, he matched the Maroon record of six for most triples in a season with 21 games remaining.
Despite his success, Cinoman said he believes it will only be a successful season if the entire team can come together as it did against Benedictine University.
“The important thing for us to do is to be consistent,” he said. “It started today. We played a great game both defensively and offensively, and the important thing is to keep playing our game and keep playing up to our potential.”
Offensively, the team scored 15 runs on 19 hits and its defense did not commit an error, while starting pitcher Alex Garcia threw a complete game and only gave up one run following a rough first two innings, where four Eagles crossed the plate.
“I was more confident with my defense,” Garcia said. “I was seeing that they were making every play so I just got more focused. I was amped up more because I was upset after those four runs in the first two innings.”
He only gave up two hits following the second inning and did not walk a single batter throughout the game, although he did hit one batter. Garcia, who is considered the team’s pitching staff leader, said the rest of the staff shares his confidence in the Maroons’ defense, and, in return, the senior has seen a drop–off in bases on balls.
“We are throwing more strikes than I’ve ever seen in my four years here,” he said.
Budeselich said the biggest challenge for his team will be to play consistent games in which every player contributes. He added that he would like this team to be the first Maroons club to make it to the NCAA Regional.
“Now being at 11 [wins], if we didn’t make it to 20 that would not be a good thing,” Budeselich said.