Mississippi State Baseball Tournament Preview: University of Illinois Chicago

May 21, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of an official Rawlings baseball in the dugout at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
May 21, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of an official Rawlings baseball in the dugout at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The University of Illinois Chicago is coming off its 5th Horizon League Championship with a 4-3 win over Wright State

The University of Illinois Chicago is located by its namesake and is by far the largest University in the Hattiesburg regional with about 30,000 students enrolled at their Chicago campus. UIC was established in 1965 and is also the newest University in the regional started only two years after South Alabama.

The University of Illinois Chicago Flames play in a 1,000 seat stadium named appropriately after their most famous baseball alumnus, Curtis Granderson. Yes, the three time All Star, for the New York Mets. He was named the Horizon League player of the Year in 2002, during his Junior Season, in which he batted .483 second only to future all star Rickie Weeks.

How UIC got to Hattiesburg?

UIC, was consistently the top team in the Horizon League this season and proved that by winning the Horizon League Tournament. The Flames defeated  Oakland in Round 2 of the Horizon League Tournament 8-0, and then proceeded to defeat the 2 seed in the tournament Wright State 4-1. The Raiders then fought through the loser’s bracket to set up a 1 vs 2 match up, which was won by the Flames. All in all, the Flames outscored their opponents in the tournament 16-3.

Pitching Staff

UIC, selected as the 4 seed in the Hattiesburg Regional, might be considered a bottom tier team, but their arms are top class.

The Flames hang heavily on their arm strength with a team E.R.A. of 2.57. Their pitching rotation consists of two Seniors and a Sophomore, and they have all had impressive performances in their own rights.

The Flames’s ace Jake Dahlberg is the crown jewel of their pitching staff with a record of 10-2 and an E.R.A. of 2.09. Dahlberg’s most impressive performance came in his match-up against the Oakland Grizzlies, in which he went 8.0 innings without allowing a hit.

The Flames trot out their Sophomore Reid Birlingmair on Saturdays, and for an underclassmen he has impressed, as well. Birlingmair has a record of 7-4, and an E.R.A. of 2.75. His most impressive start came against the Milwaukee Panthers, which Birlingmair tossed a complete game shutout, as well as only allowing two hits in the entirety of the match up against the Panthers.

Lastly, they toss Senior Jack Anderson on Sundays. Anderson has a record of 5-2 and an E.R.A. of (3.30). Anderson has not gone quite as late into games as his other two stars in the Flames’ rotation, but he did have an impressive  6.1 innings of work against the Youngstown State Penguins, which he gave up only 3 hits and allowed zero runs. The Golden Eagles might have trouble with the Flames if they overlook the sheer talent of this Flames pitching staff.


UIC’s strength does lie heavily on their arms, but their batting doesn’t lack entirely. The Flames as a team are batting .288, while knocking 39 home runs, and slugging at a .413 clip. However, UIC lacks when it comes to being patient at the plate.

For example, their strikeout to walk ration is 328/204 having struck out 124 more times than they have walked is insane and will be something to look out for throughout the regional. They have three batters hitting over .300, Rob Calabrese .357, David Cronin .320, and Cody Bohanek .302. They as a team have hit 39 long balls, with Ricardo Ramirez leading the way with 9 base knocks.

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Against Power 5 Opponents

UIC played the highest level of baseball competition 11 times, and they finished with a record of 6-5 against the top of college baseball.

The Flames boast an impressive away series over NCAA Tournament team Vanderbilt, as well a 3 game sweep of Northwestern and a win over Georgia Tech. The Flames were swept by Missouri, as well as losing a game to Georgia Tech.

Their impressive pitching staff did well against P5 opponents —  allowing only 3.7 runs per game. Their hitting against P5 foes averaged 4.3 runs, as well as striking out 8 times a game, and walking only twice per game. They did hit 8 homers in 11 games, which was good enough for a 0.7 homer per game average

Players  to Watch

UIC has a couple of stud players to watch but their main three stars would have to include:

  1. Jake Dahlberg (10-2, 2.09) 
  2. Rob Calabrese (.357 48 R.I.B.’s 7 HR’s)
  3. Ricardo Ramirez (.290 40 R.I.B.’s 9 HR’s)

Next: Bulldogs are heading to Hattiesburg


The Flames have a real shot at playing spoiler this weekend in Hattiesburg. They have the talent and the ability to steal a game against the host. It will be interesting to see how UIC performs on the big stage.