Feb. 21, 2014
Game one recap
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Northern Illinois may have started slow against Missouri State in the opening game of the Fuddrucker’s Lobo Invite at the University of New Mexico, but it finished as it accounted for eight runs in the bottom of the ninth. However, the Huskies (0-4) were unable to get over the final hump as it fell to the Bears (3-1), 9-8. Brandon Mallder (Bridgeview, Ill./St. Laurence) who entered the game in the eighth inning, finished 2-for-2 with a double, three RBI and run in the ninth inning alone.
Missouri State pitcher Cody Schumacher opened the game with five perfect innings on the mound and pitched six hitless innings in the game until making way for the Bears bullpen. MSU scored nine runs and recorded 19 hits in the contest, 17 of which occurred before NIU recorded its first hit.
“(Schumacher) did a great job of keeping us off balance forcing pop flies. Every time we did, it was right at someone,” said Head Coach Ed Mathey. “The batters were very effective against Eli (Anderson) today. It was all Missouri State until the eighth and we got some things going. We had a chance to win the game and we really put the pressure on them. I was really proud of the way our guys responded. Unfortunately, like I told the guys, runs in the first are worth the same as in the ninth. They may be more dramatic but they aren’t worth more runs.”
Senior Chris Divarco (Long Grove, Ill./Carmel Catholic) led off the eighth inning for Northern Illinois and broke up the no-hitter as he drove a 1-1 pitch up the middle but the Huskie was stranded on base to end the inning.
Pitcher Matt Williams (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) stepped onto the rubber for NIU in the top of the ninth, allowing one hit, a leadoff triple, and one walk but the NIU defense came up big to not allow another run in the contest.
With their backs against the wall, the Huskies stormed back with eight runs and seven hits with 14 batters stepping to the plate. After Justin Fletcher
(Pekin, Ill./Illinois Central) walked and Tommy Hook
(Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) singled to lead off the inning, Mallder doubled to centerfield to drive home Fletcher and put runners on second and third.
Back-to-back singles by Micah McCulloch (Rochelle, Ill./Rochelle Township) and Landon Tenhagen (Burlington, Wis./Madison Area Tech) made it 9-4 NIU with no outs and two runners on. A walk by Divarco loaded the bases for Connor Schomig (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South), who sacrificed to right field to make it 9-5. Carl Russell (Grayslake, Ill./Grayslake North) hit a single to third base and Brian Sisler (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb) reached on a fielder’s choice, but an error by the third baseman did not result in a out and loaded the bases with the top of the NIU lineup appearing with only one out.
Fletcher drove in one run on a single and a fielder’s choice by Hook to the pitcher forced Russell out at home to give the Huskies their second out. Mallder took the count full and drove a ball through the right side to make it 9-8. McCulloch walked to load the bases, and made way for pinch runner Jason Gasser (Dyer, Ind./Mt. Carmel) to put more speed on the base path and put pressure on the Bears’ defense. However, Tenhagen was unable to bring home Hook or Mallder as he popped up a 1-0 pitch to second base to end the game.
Mallder’s performance in the ninth inning marked the first time since March 31, 2013 (Easter Sunday) that an NIU player recorded to hits in one inning. Former Huskie turned Seattle Mariner farmhand Jeff Zimmerman was the last Huskie to accomplish the feat as he hit a triple and single in the sixth inning versus Akron in the series finale.