Sugar Bowl Sweep: UNO vs. Butler


Photo by Stefan Muro

Privateer baseball team steals a win from Butler.

Stefan Muro, Reporter

After dominating Chicago State with 16 runs and Rutgers with seven, the Privateer baseball team went into Sunday’s game at Maestri Field hoping not only to win their fifth game in a row, but also to also sweep the Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic. The (2-2) Butler Bulldogs were the final opponents of the weekend and yet another high-scoring game was expected.

In the bottom of the first inning, a Bulldog fielding error set up a Privateer run batted in by junior Luther Woullard, batting in junior Wade Radburn for the early 1-0 lead. However, a Privateer fielding error would score an equalizing run for Butler’s sophomore Maison Stites during the top of the third inning.

Despite the errors, the majority of this game was highlighted by great fielding and pitching displays from Privateer freshman Steven Swift, junior Christopher DeMayo, senior Mathew Oset and junior Martin Reeves. Swift had the start and struck out two Bulldogs in four innings while DeMayo struck out 4 in his relief. Shortly before the final run of the game, Oset made a crazy diving catch by getting under a bunt. Reeves’ short stint cleanly relieved Oset’s diving efforts.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, freshman Evan Francioni pinch ran for junior Tresten Kennard in scoring position. With two outs and a likely chance of going into extra innings, Butler subbed in junior Jack Pilcher to ensure that would happen. However, two wild pitches sent Francioni from second base to third, then eventually home plate for the walk-off steal! The Privateers won a low-scoring but electrifying game with a 2-1 final score.

That impactful moment was actually Francioni’s first taste of in-game action as a Privateer.

“It was exciting!” Francioni said after the game. “Based off some changes throughout the weekend, I knew that I was being looked at as the next guy to pinch run. As soon as Kennard got on first, I got the word to get my legs loose and I knew I was going in as soon as he made it to second.”

Head coach Blake Dean gave “kudos for [Francioni] for getting that dirtball read on second, moving up to third and putting more pressure on those guys. It forced them into a mistake, and we capitalized on it. It was a very savvy move for a freshman.”

The Privateers improve to 5-1 and resume home play on Friday at 6:30 p.m. for a weekend series against Yale at Maestri Field.