Season ender


It’s the bottom of the first; a weak sun retreats behind a gray skim of clouds, and a fresh breeze flaps though the sparse crowd’s Chicago windbreakers. The scene on the field is just as bleak: In the opening moments of last Wednesday’s baseball game, visiting Elmhurst College (24-11) has already scored once against the Maroons (22-12) and will three more times before the third inning is out, racking up six hits to Chicago’s one.

But the sun returns during a short fourth inning, warming the now larger crowd of straggling students and parents quick to lend encouragement (“Let’s go, buddy. Let’s go.”) With an out at second and a double play, the top of the fifth flies by. When the Maroons step to the plate Elmhurst snags a pop-fly, but then the pitcher unravels, hitting a batter (and the umpire) and walking the next before his coach yanks him. Chicago rallies against the new pitcher, as a single to left field turns into a run (interference by the third baseman) and another hit loads the bases. The crowd, munching on hot dogs grilled and served behind the bleachers, gets riled up, badgering the ump when he calls a questionable strike (“No way, blue. No way.”) The next hit bounces over the first basemen, bringing two runners home but catching the batter at third, upsetting Coach Brian Baldea, who, after some shouting and pointing, gets ejected.

With Baldea lurking beyond the left-field fence and the fifth inning closed by a strikeout, the crowd’s cheerleading can do little against Elmhurst’s superior hitting, which adds five runs in the sixth and three more in the eighth to end the Maroons’ last home game 12-3.


Photo: Maroon seniors take a bow at their last home game (top).

May 7, 2004