UIC rallied with three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to steal a victory away from the Youngstown State baseball team, 6-5, on Thursday evening at Curtis Granderson Stadium.
The Flames maintained their half-game lead for first place in the Horizon League, improving to 20-8 in conference play.
The rally came after YSU's Shane Willoughby had hit a two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie.
Penguins closer Anthony Konders came on and retired the first batter, but the next seven batters all reached base. There were only two hits in the inning, and one was an infield single on a chopper by Rob Calabrese that got the Flames going. Kevin Hix bobbled a potential double play ball in the next at bat, and Zenon Kolakowski's RBI single that followed was the only ball to leave the infield in the inning. Cody Bohanek walked to load the bases, and the tying run came across when Tyler Detmer was hit by a 1-2 pitch. Cleanup batter Jeff Boehm then hit a bouncer up the middle off Konders, and Hix was charged with his second error of the inning on the play as the winning run scored.
YSU starter Jeremy Quinlan allowed three runs, two of which were earned, on five hits and a pair of walks in six innings, and Austin Lujano and Ryan Krokos blanked the Flames in the seventh and eighth innings.
UIC's Jake Dahlberg pitched 6.2 innings in a no-decision, and Jack Andersen gave up the two-run homer to Willoughby. Ryan Hinchley got the final five outs for the Flames to earn the win.
Both teams scored a pair of runs in the third inning to make the score 2-2. The Penguins did all of their damage in the inning with two outs. Frank Califano beat out a bunt single and stole second, and he scored on Alex Larivee's single for the first run of the game. Larivee then stole second, and he proceeded to score on Lorenzo Arcuri's single.
UIC tied the score on RBIs by Alex Lee and David Cronin in the bottom of the inning, and the Flames went ahead 3-2 in the sixth when Detmer scored on a passed ball with two outs.
Hix hit a two-out RBI single in the seventh to tie the score, and Ryan Cordova was thrown out at the plate trying to score the go-ahead run on Califano's single.
Krokos worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to keep the score tied, and Willoughby's home run in the eighth came with Larivee on first.
Youngstown State and UIC will play game two of the series on Friday at noon Eastern.