Huskies Rally Back From Deficits, but Fall to Gophers

GO HUSKIES Ben Neumann pitched 1.1 innings in relief, striking out one with zero walks.
Ben Neumann pitched 1.1 innings in relief, striking out one with zero walks.

Feb. 15, 2014

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - For the second straight-game, Northern Illinois outhit Minnesota at Camelback Ranch, 9-8, but was unable to outscore the Golden Gophers (2-0) as the Huskies (0-2) fell to UM, 6-4. NIU turned three double plays defensively, however, it committed four errors in the game. Senior Chris Divarco (Long Grove, Ill./Carmel Catholic) finished the game 3-for-4 with a run, an RBI and a double.

“I was really proud of the way our guys responded today,” said Head Coach Ed Mathey, “while you obviously don’t want to have to dig yourself a hole to climb out of, our guys did a good job of producing and scoring runs when they were trailing Minnesota today and close the gap.”

The Gophers jumped out to an early lead as it scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning, but the Huskies responded in the top of the third stanza to cut that deficit to only one run with two runs of their own.

Sophomore Justin Fletcher (Pekin, Ill./Illinois Central) singled to lead off the inning and would score from second base as senior Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney) reached base on an error by the shortstop. Landon Tenhagen (Burlington, Wis./Madison Area Tech) would drive in Tommy Hook (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township), who walked after Fletcher’s single, to score the second run of the inning on a sacrifice fly to centerfield that made it, 3-2.

Minnesota responded with another run in the bottom of the frame on a sacrifice fly to centerfield to push UM up, 4-2. NIU would score another two runs, accounting for one in the fourth and another in the fifth, however, UM accounted for two more runs of its own to take its final lead, 6-4.

Divarco scored his run as he doubled to left field to leadoff the fourth inning, eventually scoring on a groundout by Brian Sisler (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb). Divarco paid it forward in the following inning as Klonowski led the stanza off with a double and drove Klonowski home for NIU’s final run of the game.

The Northern Illinois bullpen was almost flawless in 4.2 innings of work as it did not allow a single run in the ball game while striking out two and walking three in the game.

Sophomore Justin Ruckman (Kankakee, Ill./Herscher) pitched 2.2 innings in relief of his brother Jordan Ruckman (Kankakee, Ill./Herscher), only allowing two hits with a strikeout to lead the NIU relief pitchers. Ben Neumann (Verona, Wis./Verona Area) hurled 1.1 innings, only allowing one hit and striking out one in his four batters faced.

The Huskies and Golden Gophers will close the series tomorrow at 2 p.m., Central at Camelback Ranch.



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