UIC Freshman throws no-hitter

Niles, Ohio- University of Illinois at Chicago freshman Ryan Zink tossed the first UIC no-hitter in seven years to lead the Flames past Youngstown State, 7-0, in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader at Eastwood Field.

Zink’s no-hit victory helped the Flames avert a four-game sweep by YSU after UIC lost the first game of the twinbill to the Penguins in a 2-1 affair earlier in the day.

UIC is now 33-18 overall and 13-7 in the Horizon League after Sunday’s split, while Youngstown State goes to 18-28 and 7-10 in league games.

Zink (8-3) allowed only one walk in seven innings, striking out 10 Penguin batters en route to becoming the first Flame to toss a no-no since Jason Henry in 1997.

The right-hander out of Madison, Wis., also became only the tenth UIC pitcher to go unhittable in a game while becoming the fifth Flame in school history to toss a no-hit shutout.

“He was outstanding,” said UIC Assistant Coach Sean McDermott of Zink. “He had complete command all innings.”

The Flames’ bats woke up in the series finale after scoring one run in their last two contests, posting seven runs on nine hits against five different YSU hurlers, including losing pitcher Eric Shaffer (1-4), who gave up seven of those hits while allowing two runs.

Senior third baseman Brad Ryan led the charge with a 3-for-4 display in the second game, batting in three runs during a five-run UIC seventh inning with a bases-loaded triple down the right field line.

Designated hitter Justin Johnson chipped in by going 3-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored, while senior rightfielder Mike Hughes went 2-for-4 with two runs and a double.

In the first game, Youngstown State rallied with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to steal a come-from-behind 2-1 win.

The Flames led the game 1-0 after 5 1/2 innings behind a solid pitching performance from reigning Horizon League Pitcher of the Week Tom Szalewski, who allowed only three hits in the first five frames.

Szalewski faced trouble in the fourth inning when an error, a single and an intentional walk to Justin Banks loaded the bases for the Penguins with one out. But Szalewski induced Brian Boone to ground into an inning-ending double play that kept the game scoreless.

UIC broke through in the next inning, when Hughes doubled home J. P. Moran from second to give the Flames a 1-0 lead. The run-scoring double gave Hughes his team-leading 57th RBI.

But the Penguins rallied off Szalewski in the bottom of the sixth. After getting the first two hitters out, Szalewski allowed a single to Jim Lipinski and an RBI double to Adam Cox that scored Lipinski and tied the game at 1-1. Cox then advanced to third on the throw home.

Banks followed with a grounder to senior shortstop Jordan Devoir that would have ended the inning, but Devoir was unable to handle the ball to commit his second error of the game and allow Cox to score the winning run.

The Flames had opportunities to score the entire day but left five runners on base in the first game and 13 overall between the two games of the twinbill.

Szalewski fell to 4-2 with the loss despite giving up just one earned run. Kevin Libeg picked up the win with six innings of three-hit ball, while Andrew Svitak earned his second save of the season with a 1-2-3 seventh.

“We got a really good pitching performance from Tom Szalewski,” said McDermott. “We just didn’t swing the bat. We should’ve scored more runs.”

Overall UIC finished the series 1-3 after going into the weekend hoping to pad their lead in the Horizon League standings.

“The weekend was a complete and utter failure,” said McDermott. “We are very disappointed with the performance.

“We feel that we failed to attain our objectives [for the weekend].”

The Flames return to action on Tuesday, May 18th for a game at Valparaiso at 3 p.m.