Flames enjoy Sunday sweep in Big Easy

Rob Calabrese

Rob Calabrese reached base safely in all four games at the MLB Urban Youth Invitational. (Photo: Steve Woltmann)

UIC jumped into the win column in a big way Sunday with victories over Grambling State and Prairie View A&M during the final day of the 2017 MLB Urban Youth Invitational in New Orleans.

The Flames defeated Grambling State in the first game, 9-3, before closing the weekend with a 6-1 triumph over Prairie View A&M.

During the first two games of the invitational, the Flames fell Friday, 4-5, against Prairie View A&M and Saturday, 5-8, versus New Orleans.

Ricardo Ramirez homered in both games Sunday, while Thomas Norton drove in four runs and clubbed three doubles. On the mound, the Flames scattered only seven hits and gave up three earned runs to two SWAC schools.

In the day’s first game against Grambling State, freshman Jacob Key took the ball on the bump for the first time and delivered a quality start — six innings pitched with only two runs allowed — one which was unearned. Key’s offense supported him well as four players drove in at least two runs, highlighted by Norton’s three RBI.

Sophomore Reid Birlingmair earned the start in game two and he delivered another quality outing. The Normal, Illinois, native allowed but one run over his 6.2 innings pitched, fanning a career-high 10 batters in the process.

David Cronin was the only player to hit safely in all four games over the weekend. He batted .500 on the weekend (8-for-16) with two extra-base hits, two RBI and two stolen bases. The redshirt junior has an eight-game hitting streak dating back to the end of the 2016 season.

Rob Calabrese joined Cronin as the only Flames to reach base safely in every game at the MLB Urban Youth Invitational.

The UIC pitching staff posted a 3.41 ERA at the MLB Urban Youth Invitational, while holding the opposition to a batting average of .194. The Flames had 42 strike outs, while issuing only 12 walks for a ratio of 3.5.

UIC will travel to Nashville this weekend to take on No. 7 Vanderbilt in a three-game set.

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