Feb. 16, 2013
LUBBOCK, Texas - A late rally for Northern Illinois brought the Huskies within two runs of Brigham Young but NIU was unable to get over the hump and fell to the Cougars, 5-3. Senior Jamison Wells (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly) continued his hot start to the season, finishing 1-for-2 with a double, a walk, a stolen base, an RBI and a run.
"I really liked our energy and our enthusiasm today coming off of a late game yesterday against Texas Tech," said Head Coach Ed Mathey, "we were able to get string some hits but it really came down to the little things to finish the job and score those runners on base. We can't have mental errors and we need to drive the ball away from the defense. BYU is a veteran club and our young guys really took it to them. We're pleased with the effort, but with the result today. We need to come out with that same energy tomorrow in our double-header. If we do that, we'll be successful."
Freshman Jordan Ruckman (Kankakee/Herscher) made his NIU debut on the mound and became the first true frosh to start for the Huskies on opening weekend since 2009 (Chris Wakefield). Ruckman hurled six innings for NIU, surrendering five hits , five earned runs, three strikeouts and two walks.
"Jordan did a heck of a job today and was good in his debut," added Mathey, "he threw some strikes out there and had BYU swinging. Outside of a couple of lapses that allowed runners to advance on the base path, he was good today."
BYU (2-0) gained a 4-0 advantage after four innings of play but the Huskies cut the the deficit to three runs after a sacrifice fly by Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo.) in the sixth inning that sent Nate Ruzich (Joliet/South Suburban College) home to make it 4-1.
The Huskies continued to battle to the eighth, where a single by Ruzich and a double by Wells put runners on second and third base. Connor Duckhorn (Hinsdale/Cowley County College) grounded out to second base to score Ruzich for the second time and Wells reached home following a balk by pitcher Brennon Anderson to make it 5-3.
The promise continued in the ninth inning after a leadoff infield single by first baseman Jeff Zimmerman (Tinley Park/Andrew), who went to second following a wild pitch by closer Matt Milke. With a full count on him, freshman Brandon Mallder (Bridgeview)/St. Laurence) walked and was substituted by Connor Schomig (Hinsdale/Hinsdale South) to add a little more speed on the base path with runners at first and third. Northern Illinois was unable to capitalize on the opportunity however as the game ended, 5-3.
In closing, the skipper said "we gave ourselves a chance today, we just need to finish those opportunities and take advantage of them."
Anthony Andres (Western Springs/St. Rita) finished the final two innings on the mound for NIU, allowing only one hit with two strikeouts and zero walks.
Ruzich accounted for a team-high two runs in the bottom of the batting order, with Wells scoring the other at the top of the lineup. Duckhorn (second) and Klonowski (third) drove in runs from the top third of the batting order. Zimmerman led the team with two hits, including a double.
The Huskies (0-2) will play two on Sunday as they face Northern Colorado tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. and close the Brooks Wallace Memorial Classic with Texas Tech in the afternoon at 3 p.m.
With two doubles already this season, Jamison Wells is slugging .833 to start the season … Wells also leads the team in on-base percentage at .667 on three hits, two walks and one hit by pitch … Wells stole his 65th base of his career Saturday, putting him six shy of tying the all-time record … NIU freshman pitchers have combined for 10 innings pitched with seven strikeouts, four walks and five runs (4.50 ERA) … NIU improved at the plate this afternoon, striking out six times against the Cougars, compared to 17 versus Texas Tech, tying the program record.