The McKendree University baseball team dropped both ends of its Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader Wednesday afternoon at the University of Illinois Springfield. The host Prairie Stars notched a 12-4 victory in the opener before taking a 7-4 decision in game two.
With its two losses, McKendree moves to 5-17 on the year and 4-10 in the GLVC. The Bearcats closed out a 10-game road swing with Wednesday’s twinbill, and will return to Hypes Field this weekend for a four-game league series against the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. McKendree and UWP are slated to play doubleheaders Friday and Saturday, with first pitch each day coming at noon.
In game one, Illinois Springfield (13-14, 7-7 GLVC) jumped out to a 7-0 lead with a run in the first inning, two in the second and four more in the third. McKendree broke into the scoring column with a run in the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore infielder Tyson Boehne (Carlyle) led off the frame with a single and moved to second after a one-out walk to senior outfielder Kyle Rutledge. Freshman outfielder Brad Groleau came up next and reached on a single to load the bases. Boehne scored when senior third baseman Jake Kline grounded out to short.
McKendree pulled to within 7-4 thanks to a three-run outburst in the top of the sixth inning. Sophomore first baseman Zack Klockowski started the inning with a double, and junior catcher Connor Davault followed with a single to put runners at first and third. Two batters later, Boehne singled to right-center field to score Klockowski with the first run of the inning. The Bearcats eventually loaded the bases before Rutledge ripped a two-run double to trim the deficit to just three runs.
The momentum was short-lived as the Prairie Stars answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth, then plated three more in the eighth to pull away for the win. Boehne and Rutledge each finished with two hits in the opener.
Junior left-hander Josh Tonozzi pitched the first three innings in taking the mound loss for McKendree. Tonozzi gave up five earned runs on seven hits with two walks and a pair of strikeouts.
Both offenses were ready to go in the nightcap as McKendree and UIS scored in each of the first two innings. The Bearcats grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Rutledge led off with a walk and Groleau followed with a bunt single. Two batters later, senior infielder Pierce Borah brought home Rutledge with an RBI single. Groleau scored on a Prairie Stars’ error. UIS bounced back with two runs of its own to tie the contest at 2-2 after one inning of play.
In the second, Boehne led off with a double and reached third on a wild pitch. With two outs, Groleau doubled to center field to plate Boehne and give the Bearcats a 3-2 advantage. The Prairie Stars then took the lead for good with two runs in the bottom of the frame for a 4-3 lead, then added three more runs in the third to extend its margin to 7-3.
McKendree scored the final run of the contest in the fifth inning. With two outs, Borah singled and advanced to second base following a single off the bat of sophomore catcher Kyle Jackson (Carlyle). Junior John Tolliver stepped up next and delivered a run-scoring single to bring home Borah.
Groleau and Borah each collected two hits in the contest. Freshman right-hander Blake Deatherage (O’Fallon) allowed six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings of work with one strikeout has he was charged with the game two defeat.