Judah Newby | Assistant Sports Editor
Just over two weeks have passed since the beginning of the 2014 CCIW baseball season, and after five games the Wheaton Thunder sit in fourth place in the conference standings with a 3-2 record and an overall record of 13-6. Wheaton heads into an important weekend series with conference-leading Illinois Wesleyan (10-7; 5-0 CCIW) that begins this evening with an opportunity to make some noise in the CCIW standings. The three-game series features the opener tonight at 6 p.m. at Lee Pfund Stadium in Carol Stream, pitting probable starters senior Evan Rahn (4-1; 1.38 ERA) for Wheaton against senior Jeff Johnson (2-1; 3.38) for Illinois Wesleyan.
Rahn, a senior right hander, was the hard-luck losing pitcher in Wheaton’s series opener with Augustana last weekend. The Friday evening game was a pitcher’s duel, as Rahn went eight innings and struck out seven while allowing just one earned run, while his counterpart Seth Davis threw a complete-game with eight strikeouts and one run himself. However, Wheaton’s defense committed three errors in the decisive seventh inning, leading to two Augustana runs and the eventual 3-1 final.
A few short hours later the two programs met at Lee Pfund Stadium for a doubleheader and games two and three of the series. Game two belonged to Wheaton sophomore Josh Arevalo, a 1-0 Thunder victory, as the righty worked efficiently through the Vikings lineup and earned the victory via a complete-game shutout, allowing seven hits, striking out eight, and allowing no walks. The game’s lone run came courtesy of a sixth-inning RBI single from senior outfielder Justin Swider to left field, scoring sophomore Josh Kimmel from third base. Junior second-baseman Matt Schappell also contributed well at the plate, going 3-for-4 in the win.
The series’ final game also was a shutout, but this time not in the Thunder’s favor, as Augustana’s Walter White went the distance and faced just two hitters above the minimum en route to a 5-0 Vikings win. Senior Trey Martin went six innings as the Thunder starter, but got touched up for four runs — two earned — on six hits and walking three. Sophomore Peter Moran was effective in relief, allowing one run in the final three innings of play.
Whatever frustrations Martin may have had in his start on Saturday, he seemed to take them out on the baseball during his at-bats last Tuesday against the Elmhurst Blue Jays. Wheaton took on Elmhurst in a weekday doubleheader and earned a pair of victories, winning game one 13-7 and game two 15-4. Martin posted extraordinary numbers in the opener, rapping out five hits in six at-bats, two of them home runs, and knocking in a whopping eight runs in the process. The senior captain hit yet another homer — his third of the day — in the first inning of game two to help Wheaton to an early 3-0 lead that they would never relinquish. Sophomore infielder Kyle Mellinger also swung the bat well, finishing the game 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles with two RBIs and three runs scored.
The doubleheader sweep of Elmhurst pushed Wheaton’s record above .500 at 3-2, good for fourth in the conference with 15 games to play. The Thunder host Illinois Wesleyan tonight, then meet again with the Titans in Bloomington tomorrow in a double header for games two and three. The Thunder returns home to finish up their three-game set with Elmhurst the following Wednesday, April 9.