Villasenor's Shutout and Offensive Explosions Propel Maroon Baseball Past Luther and Grinnell

Maximiliano Larsen and Brenton Villasenor
Maximiliano Larsen and Brenton Villasenor

GRINNELL, Iowa – Once the University of Chicago baseball hitters got rolling, the offense exploded for several big innings that carried them to a pair of comfortable wins on Saturday over Luther College and Grinnell College.

The Maroons (24-10 record) played the first half of their four-game weekend in Iowa. The shutout of Luther was the pitching staff's fifth of the season.

Game One – UChicago 10, Luther 0

UChicago put the game out of reach right from the get-go. By the time Luther recorded the second out of the first inning, the Maroons already scored seven times.

The rally started with junior outfielder Josh Parks' RBI double to right center. An infield error brought the runner in from third, followed by sophomore designated hitter Payton Jancsy's RBI single through the right side. With the bases loaded, a wild pitch moved all the runners up one spot. Sophomore third baseman Drew Ventrelle lined a RBI single up the middle, and first-year shortstop Brian Lyle laid down a run-scoring squeeze bunt right after. By that time, Luther switched out its pitcher, who was soon welcomed by senior outfielder Maximiliano Larsen's RBI single.

That offensive explosion proved more than enough support for Brenton Villasenor (4-3 record). The junior starting pitcher was on top of his game all day on the mound. Working at his usual fast pace, Villasenor struck out eight batters over the course of his seven innings to record the first shutout of his career. He limited the Norse to a mere four hits and one walk. UChicago's defense helped along the way, turning three double plays in the opening four innings.

Three additional runs came around in the fifth inning for good measure. RBI singles came courtesy of Lyle, Larsen and junior catcher Ian Bohn.

All told, UChicago tallied 11 hits and one error defensively. Larsen hit 3-for-4 with two RBI, while Jancsy and Ventrelle both went 2-for-4 with an RBI apiece.

Game Two – UChicago 11, Grinnell 3

The day's second game unfolded similarly to the first. By the middle of the third inning, UChicago was up seven runs yet again.

Larsen homered to left center on the first pitch he saw of the game. Then while leading off the third inning, the senior lefty was hit by a pitch and stole second base. He then had a nice leisurely trot around the bases when Bohn smashed a two-run homer on a full count. With two runners on, Jancsy cleared the bags by legging out a triple to the gap. Ventrelle singled in two as well to make the score 7-0.

Grinnell got onto the scoreboard with back-to-back solo homers in the fourth. A double in the fifth cut the deficit to 7-3. UChicago then brought pitcher Ravi Bakhai in from the bullpen to start the sixth inning. The junior righty kept up his hot streak on the mound and was nearly untouchable. In four innings of work, he fanned six batters with only one hit and one walk on his ledger.

Over his past five appearances, Bakhai has struck out 17 batters versus only two hits in 11.1 innings. He also picked up his second save of the season, striking out the side in the ninth.

The Maroons provided additional insurance by scoring four in the seventh frame. With the bases loaded, Larsen promptly ripped a three-run double – his 16th double of the season. Jancsy ultimately singled in the game's final run.

Offensively, the Maroons put up 12 hits and drew seven walks. Larsen continued his roll by going 2-for-4 with four driven in. Jancsy batted 2-for-5 with three RBI. Junior first baseman Brady Sarkon was 2-for-2 with two walks. First-year second baseman James Kelly contributed a 2-for-4 showing at the plate.

Sophomore pitcher Jacob Petersen improved to 8-2 on the season. In five innings of work, his pitching line included three runs, five hits, one walk and four strikeouts.

On defense, UChicago turned its 32nd double play of the season.

NEXT GAMES:

  • Sunday, April 6 @ Noon – UChicago at Grinnell (DH)