Feb. 27, 2009
Tempe, Ariz. - Despite outhitting Baseball America No. 8 Arizona State eight to seven, the Northern Illinois baseball team was defeated by the Sun Devils 6-1 behind a four-run third inning on Friday night at Packard Stadium as ASU (7-0) took advantage of three NIU (1-5) errors and six free passes.
"I thought our pitchers did a great job of bouncing back from yesterday," said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. "Chris Wakefield did a pretty nice job especially with the errors that were committed behind him. When you give a team extra outs it will come back to cost you, let alone a team like Arizona state. It puts more pressure on the rest of the game.
"Offensively, we had opportunities but didn't get the big hits when we needed them. They are an efficient baseball team that throws strikes and makes plays. We are working toward becoming an efficient team."
The Sun Devils capitalized on two Huskie errors and pushed across four runs in the third inning on three hits, creating a 4-0 lead that NIU could not recover from. Johnny Ruettiger led the inning off with an infield single and then Mike Murphy was hit by a pitch to set up Raoul Torrez's bunt single that scored both runners after Troy White's throw to first was offline. Zack MacPhee followed with an RBI single to right field to score Torrez. Then a dropped fly ball by senior Justin Behm (Downers Grove, Ill./North) allowed runners to advance to second and third which resulted in an RBI ground out by Ramirez. Senior Matt Behren (Elmwood Park, Ill./Holy Cross) ended the rally by throwing out a pair of ASU base stealers, catching Jason Kipnis at third and Jared McDonald at second.
ASU scored its last two runs of the game in the next inning. Matt Newman started the fourth inning with a solo homerun to right-center. After a Calhoun walk, Ruettiger reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a Murphy fly out and a Torrez walk, Ruettiger then stole third and scored on a Torrez's steal attempt in which Torrez was caught stealing second base, but not before Ruettiger crossed home plate.
ASU reliever Jason Franzblau (1-0) was credited with the win after taking over for starter Matt Newman with one out in the fifth. Newman gave up six hits and tallied four strikeouts while not giving up a run. Franzblau pitched four innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Huskie freshman starter Chris Wakefield (Canton, Ga./Cherokee) took the loss (0-2) after going five innings, surrendering five earned runs on six hits and three walks.
After Wakefield's scoreless fifth, the Huskie bullpen pitched the final three innings with sophomores Zach Oates (Wheaton, Ill./North) and Tom Zelasko (Lansing, Ill./Mt. Carmel) and freshman Kyle Glancy (Oak Park, Ill./Oak Park-River Forest) combining to give up one hit with three strikeouts and two walks.
"If the bullpen can continue to do that, it bodes well for our team," said Mathey. "With our starters still on pitch counts right now, if they can throw the way they are, it will help us out a lot as our pitchers build up their pitch counts. I was very happy with the way they competed tonight."
Newman led all ASU hitters with a 2-for-4 night at the plate while driving in and scoring one run. NIU junior Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) also went 2-for-4 while Behren drove in the lone Huskie run in addition to throwing out four base runners from behind the plate.
"Matt had a nice game," Mathey said. "He called a great game and did a nice job of taming a fast team on the base paths. He also drove in our only run."
The Huskies' best scoring opportunity came with loaded the bases in the fifth and two outs after singles from Marvin Sanchez and Dave Reynolds and a walk by Behm, but Behren grounded out to first base to end the threat.
NIU scored its only run of the game in the eighth as Behren had an RBI ground out to score Jordin Hood, who reached on a single through the left side, advanced to second on a passed ball and got to third on a wild pitch.
The Huskies face Baseball America No. 15 Missouri (1-6) tomorrow at 2 p.m. CT in NIU's third game at the DeMarini Invite. Fans can follow the game live via GameTracker on www.niuhuskies.com.
- Matt Behren threw out NIU's first base runner on the year by catching McDonald in his attempt to steal second base in the second inning. He then threw out Kipnis, who was trying to steal third and McDonald again at second in the third inning. He also caught Torrez in the fourth inning trying to steal second.
- Dave Reynolds recorded his first multi-hit game of the year with a pair of singles.
- Senior Pat Minogue (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central) moved to fifth place on NIU's all-time at-bats list with 641 + today and also ranks eighth in career hits with 171 + today.
- Zach Oates registered his third consecutive scoreless appearance with a perfect sixth inning that featured one strikeout. During his scoreless stretch he has pitched 2.2 innings, allowing only a hit and a walk with four strikeouts.
- The Huskies have had at least one player with two or more hits in every game this season.
- Kyle Glancy pitched his first career full inning in a game and has not given up a run in his two innings of work, allowing one hit with two strikeouts.