Huskies Fall in 10 Innings to Minnesota, 3-2

GO HUSKIES Chris Divarco scored the first run of the game as he singled in the third inning
GO HUSKIES
Chris Divarco scored the first run of the game as he singled in the third inning
GO HUSKIES

Feb. 14, 2014

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - Northern Illinois opened its 2014 season Friday afternoon with an extra innings affair versus Minnesota at Camelback Ranch. After nine innings and the score knotted, 2-2, the Golden Gophers (1-0) drove in the winning run on one out a bases loaded fielder's choice to second base, taking the season opener from the Huskies (0-1), 3-2. NIU outhit UM, 7-6, and only left six runners on base, compared to Minnesota's 10.

"We're obviously disappointed with the loss today. We thought we had some chances to win this game but it being the first game of the season, we have some things to build on in the rest of the series," said Head Coach Ed Mathey. "Minnesota's pitchers did an outstanding job today but a couple of our guys were able to drive balls the opposite side of field to score some runs. (Minnesota) did a great job of manufacturing runs when their opportunities arose."

The Huskies did not reach base in the first two innings of the contest, but did so in the third frame as senior Chris Divarco (Long Grove, Ill./Carmel Catholic) singled to right center field with one out and quickly advanced to second after an error by the pitcher. With the top of the lineup at the plate and two outs, sophomore transfer Justin Fletcher (Pekin, Ill./Illinois Central) tripled to drive in Divarco and give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.

Minnesota responded in the bottom of the fifth inning for its first run of the game with two consecutive singles to start the inning and a double by Bobby Juan to drive home the Gophers first run and tie it up, 1-1.

Northern Illinois pitcher Eli Anderson (Glenview, Ill./New Trier) would not allow any more hits during his time on the mound as he held UM at bay in his final innings. Anderson hurled seven innings, only allowing three hits and one run, while striking out three and only walking two on 71 pitches (43 strikes).

"Eli did very well on the mound for us and did a great job of limiting damage against us in the fifth. Things could've been a lot worse for us that inning," added Mathey.

The Huskies regained the lead in the top of the eighth as Tommy Hook (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) reached base on an error and advanced to third on a single by Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney). Hook would score as Brandon Mallder (Bridgeview, Ill./St. Laurence) grounded into a 1-4-3 double play to give NIU a 2-1 lead. The Golden Gophers responded in the bottom half of the inning to tie it up, 2-2.

Senior Anthony Andres (Western Springs, Ill./St. Rita) stepped onto the mound after the tying run came across the plate in the eighth and would go on to finish the game for the Huskies, pitching 1.2 innings and not allowing a single hit in his time on the bump.

Andres walked the first batter of the inning and followed up with a fly out for the only out of the frame. After a balk pushed the runner to second and an intentional walk to put the force at third, Andres hit Matt Halloran to load the bases. Designated hitter Dan Olinger hit a high, chopper to second baseman Carl Russell (Grayslake, Ill./GraysLake North) but the Huskie was unable to get the out at the plate as Connor Schaefbauer scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th to give Minnesota the opener, 3-2.

Klonowski and Brian Sisler (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb) led NIU at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two singles. UM starting pitcher only went four innings in the game, but struck eight batters on 65 pitches.  Golden Gopher Kevin Kray earned his first win of the season for UM, pitching three scoreless innings with one hit allowed and three strikeouts.

Northern Illinois and Minnesota will resume the series tomorrow at Camelback Ranch with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. Central. NIU's Jordan Ruckman will take the mound versus Jordan Jess, whom the Huskies defeated last season in the Dairy Queen Classic at the Metrodome, 2-1.