Sports Information Director
(Chicago, Ill.) The Saints continued their action packed week in Chicago, Ill. on Thursday night to take on NCAA Division I opponent Chicago State University. After holding an early need for nearly half of the game, the Cougars put together an impressive seventh and eighth inning to take control of the Saints and defeat them 5-2. After the loss, the Saints fall to 7-16 overall and 2-6 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC).
"I thought we did a good job of holding our own against a Division I school," stated coach Blondell. "We were able to answer back at them the first time they took the lead, but in the end, we came up just short."
The Saints were quick to work in Thursday night's matchup against the Cougars as they were able to quickly jump out to an early 1-0 lead at the end of the first inning after a sacrifice fly from freshman Max Linnville (Boone, NC).
Freshman starting pitcher Zach Mahalko (Belle Vernon, PA) was impressive early on after holding the Cougars hitless through the first four innings.
The bats of the Cougars came alive in the bottom of the fifth inning where they rallied off four hits and scored two runs to take a 2-1 advantage over the Saints.
The Saints used their standard small ball in the top of the sixth inning to score the game's tying run without registering a hit. Paul Kappaz (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) led the inning off, stole second and was sacrificed to third off the bat of Ben Bournay (Dowagiac, Mich.). Max Linnville then laid down a sacrifice bunt to bring Kappaz home and knot the score up at 2-2.
Mahalko then shut down the Cougars in the bottom of the sixth to keep the game tied.
The Cougars were once again able to put some runs on the board in the bottom of the seventh inning after a leadoff walk quickly turned into a bases loaded single down the left field line brought home two runs to make it a 4-2 Cougars lead.
An eighth inning homerun by Chicago State extended the Cougars lead to 5-2 which the Saints were unable to match in their final at bats.
Zach Mahalko (0-2), despite getting the loss, pitched an impressive 6 2/3 innings while giving up six hits, four runs and striking out three.
"I'm proud of how the guys handled themselves on this trip," continued Blondell. "It's not easy facing a Division I program, and I felt they played like they expected to win. As a coach, that's what you look for. It was a good experience for our team, and I think it will help us when we resume conference play this weekend.
The Saints will return home to Coveleski Stadium for one game on Friday against Calumet College of St. Joseph before heading to Whiting, Ind. to wrap up the three game series with the Crimson Wave. The first pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. EST.